Space Florida in Good Hands; Florida’s Space Effort…Not As Well Off

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Florida Trend Executive Editor Mark Howard has some very nice things to say about Space Florida President Frank DiBello, who was brought in to take over the floundering agency earlier this year:

DiBello, a gracious, well-considered man, has a comprehensive understanding of how the space industry ties into a host of endeavors, from agriculture and environmental monitoring to research in fields ranging from life sciences to communications, robotics and emergency management. In just a few months on the job, he’s produced a master plan for the agency — a legally required task that his predecessor never completed — with the outlines of a long-term strategy.

As good as DiBello is, however, he’s up against some long odds as NASA retires its shuttle shuttle fleet next year, Howard writes. The expected years-long gap before a successor vehicle flies will mean much economic hardship, something that DiBello and his state-funded agency are trying to mitigate by attracting new aerospace business.

Among other things, DiBello could use a unified effort from Florida’s congressional delegation in Washington and a few more dollars from the state to compete for specific opportunities that become available.

The stakes are high beyond the Space Coast. According to AeA, the nation’s largest technology trade association, high-tech jobs in Palm Bay-Melbourne, including space-related jobs, accounted for nearly 12% of the private sector workforce — the ninth-highest concentration in the nation. The average tech worker earns nearly $70,000. In a state as talent-thin as Florida, that cluster of human capital is significant.

Read the full essay.