Technology on the Florida Space Coast
The Florida Space Coast is a technology epicenter with the booming aerospace industry. Technology on the Space Coast has been at the cutting edge since the late 1940s, first gaining national exposure with Project Mercury in 1961.
Florida’s Space Coast came into prominence in the early 1960s after President John F. Kennedy made his address to Congress proposing that the country should put a man on the moon. Soon after that address, NASA began to expand on the Space Coast, to accommodate the launch of manned lunar flights.
In 1962, NASA acquired 131 miles of land on Merritt Island and northwest of Cape Canaveral, later purchasing an additional 87 square miles, which, combined, became the Kennedy Space Center.
NASA’s Space Shuttle program ran through 2011, and when it ended, many engineers and employees stayed in the region seeking new high-tech jobs. Those highly-trained job seekers made the region ripe for the development of new high-tech companies.
The Melbourne Regional Chamber has been instrumental in fostering these regional companies and helping them grow and meet challenges.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. The company is growing exponentially, said Vice President of Engineering and Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence Bob Klein, with the Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence footprint steadily growing over the last few years.
As Northrop Grumman has expanded, the Chamber has been instrumental in helping to grow its staff. “Over the past year, we have hired more than 400 personnel and currently have another 400 open job postings,” Klein said. With Chamber support, we have been able to successfully meet our hiring needs and attract talent to the Space Coast.”
Northrop Grumman moved to Florida in 1979, “to be a major player, we needed to be in a major market,” he said. The company started developing commercial aircraft and special technologies that help make them unique in their marketplace, now producing four different planes out of their Brevard County factories.
The Chamber has helped the company attract and retain talent through their advocacy, said Northrop Grumman spokeswoman Jacqueline Farrell Jeransky. “Membership with the Chamber of Commerce provides tremendous value. Their organization is essential to our growth on the Space Coast.” The Chamber initiates business-to-business commerce and community networking opportunities, she noted, and the Chamber team partners with the Economic Development Commission on advocacy activities.
For example, the Chamber assists by providing effective promotional marketing materials.
“In Melbourne, our Chamber of Commerce does a fantastic job highlighting Brevard County offerings which gives prospective candidates a glimpse into the excellent quality of life on the Space Coast Farrell Jeransky said. “Frequently, the Chamber sends talent referrals as well, helping us meet on hiring demands.”
Embraer Executive Aircraft
The Chamber’s assistance has also helped Embraer Executive Aircraft, the third-largest supplier of civil aircraft in the world, meet staffing needs over the years. “The Chamber does an excellent job of helping us to find prospective employees,” said spokesman Daniel Bachmann. “We’ve expanded several times since 2011, and each time the Chamber helped us in instrumental ways.” The Chamber also has helped Embraer connect with business partners and vendors, he added.
The fast-growing company was founded in Brazil just a few weeks after the Project Mercury launch, Bachmann said. Headquartering on the Space Coast was perfectly fitting because of that shared history.
Technology is continuing to evolve and becoming more important in the region, said Michael Ballard, president of TechRev.
“Tech is needed for just normal business functions now,” he said. “Because of that prevalence, security is becoming a bigger and bigger concern.”
In the past, Ballard said, only large companies had to worry about cyber-security, but now all companies need to have systems in place to protect from threats.
Tech Rev benefits from Chamber involvement by being tuned into community and local business news updates.
“That allows us to see what is going on in the community and be more attractive to potential employees and customers,” Ballard said.
Chamber partnerships continue business success
The future remains bright for local tech companies. “Our business continuously evolves,” Klein said. “As our customer needs increase, we will grow to support requirements. We appreciate the value of the Melbourne Regional Chamber; we’ve cultivated a strong business relationship. Tools provided via MRC will remain beneficial.”