Florida Space Coast Getting $124 Million Boost

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott

The Florida Space Coast, hard hit by the economic meltdown and the end of the space shuttle program, got a couple of big shots in the arm on Wednesday as officials broke ground on two technology centers.

Gov. Rick Scott was on hand for groundbreaking ceremonies for the new $24 million Embraer Engineering and Technology Center USA at Melbourne International Airport. The governor also attended the groundbreaking on $100 million Harris Technology Center in nearby Palm Bay. Both projects represent expansions of existing operations in those locations backed by the financial support of state and local governments.

The Embraer expansion will generate 200 engineering jobs by the end of 2016, while the Harris center will create 100 new permanent technical and support jobs, development officials said in a pair of press releases. The expansions will create hundreds of additional construction jobs, including up to 300 positions on the Harris project over the next three years, officials said.

“As we continue to create a better business climate, we are also bringing more jobs to Florida,” Governor Scott said of the Embraer project. “These 200 new jobs mean more families will be able to bring a paycheck home, and although our work isn’t done, we’ll continue to work to grow jobs so every Florida family can enjoy the American dream.”

Brazilian Jet Builder Expands

Embraer’s 63,500-square-foot facility is an expansion of the company’s existing operations at the Melbourne airport, the company’s final assembly plant and customer center. Those two facilities will total a combined 138,000 square feet and a capital investment of more than $50 million.

“Breaking ground on the newest facility at our growing aeronautical cluster in Melbourne is an important milestone for Embraer on its path to becoming a truly global company,” said Gary Spulak, president of Embraer Aircraft Holding Inc. “This latest achievement is a testament to the close partnership we have with the state of Florida and economic development authorities on the Space Coast and Melbourne, without which this aviation campus would not have been possible.”

Space Florida will finance, build, own and operate the Embraer technology center for the Brazilian-based commercial jet builder. The Sunshine State’s space agency worked with the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida’s Space Coast and local officials to develop an incentives package for the company to expand its operations.

“Embraer reflects the type of company that will keep Florida’s aerospace-related economic engine running into the foreseeable future,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a forward-thinking aviation company and help them expand their operations here in Central Florida.”

Officials are touting Embraer’s expansion as a key step toward recovery in the wake of the space shuttle program’s end last year.

“The EDC has had a window seat to Embraer’s dynamic growth on the Space Coast, from its first-ever North American assembly operation, which opened in February 2011 at Melbourne International Airport, to the $24 million Engineering and Technology Center we are thrilled to help get under way today,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the EDC of Florida’s Space Coast.

“We knew when the EDC began working with this company that Embraer had the potential to help reshape the Space Coast economy and spark a post-shuttle resurgence,” she added. “Clearly that potential has become reality. There is no better place than the Space Coast for engineering and technology, and we look forward to the 200 jobs and numerous innovations Embraer will create at this cutting-edge facility.”

Harris Corporation Expansion

The Harris Corporation’s new technology center is a six-story, 450,000-square-foot facility designed to be the international communications and information technology company’s “centerpiece for the cutting-edge engineering innovations.”

“The new Harris Technology Center represents an important investment in the future growth of our company, and our desire to create world-class working facilities for our employees,” said Harris Corporation President William Brown said.

“For our community and state, it represents our commitment to being here for the long term and continuing to play a key role in the region’s economic growth. One aspect of that is a commitment to use local suppliers when possible, and we are very pleased to team with these respected Central Florida construction firms to make our new technology center a reality,” he added.

The company will use the center to foster new engineering innovations that will retain current employers and attract highly-skilled new ones to the Space Coast.

“For more than 50 years, the Harris Corporation and the state of Florida have been partners working to create opportunities for Floridians. Today’s announcement signals that this partnership will continue to flourish and that this is a tremendous milestone for Florida families,” said Gov. Scott. “It shows that Florida’s business climate is ripe for corporate expansions, which means more jobs for Florida families.”

The EDC of Florida’s Space Coast worked with Brevard County, the City of Palm Bay, Enterprise Florida Inc., the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the US Economic Development Administration to put together a package of incentives and improvements to support the expansion.

“Harris Corporation has been a valued part of the Space Coast economy for more than 50 years, a solid anchor in our high-tech sector while remaining a cutting-edge company that continues to create jobs and advance our diverse economy,” Weatherman said.

“Over the last two years, the EDC worked with Harris and our economic development partners to ensure the next half-century will be strengthened by this Technology Center and the positive impact it will have on Palm Bay and all of the Space Coast. We thank Harris for its ongoing commitment to the Space Coast and its role as a leader in the communications and technology industry sectors,” she added.

About Embraer

Embraer S.A. is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial jets up to 120 seats, and one of Brazil’s leading exporters. Embraer’s headquarters are located in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, and it has offices, industrial operations and customer service facilities in Brazil, China, France, Portugal, Singapore, and the U.S. Founded in 1969, the company designs, develops, manufactures and sells aircraft and systems for the commercial aviation, executive aviation, and defense and security segments. It also provides after sales support and services to customers worldwide. www.embraer.com

About Harris Corporation

Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 125 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Fla., the company has approximately $5.5 billion of annual revenue and about 15,000 employees — including 6,000 engineers and scientists. Harris is dedicated to developing best-in-class assured communications® products, systems, and services. Additional information is available at www.harris.com.

About Space Florida

Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov

About the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast

The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast is dedicated to attracting new business and investment and expanding existing industry throughout the Space Coast, influencing change on government laws and regulations affecting economic development, promoting the Space Coast to encourage new investment, supporting efforts of Space Coast military installations, and relaying new programs and procedures to assist manufacturing and high tech companies.  The EDC is a private, not-for-profit coalition whose stakeholders are business leaders committed to the economic growth and stability of Florida’s Space Coast. Visit www.SpaceCoastEDC.org.