F.Y.I. East and West Florida Economic News: November 2013

November 2013 economic news, notes and commentary from the East and West Florida regions.


Embraer S.A.

Embraer S.A., is at it again in Melbourne. The company intends to open an aircraft assembly plant and related facilities at Melbourne International Airport for its twin-engine Legacy 500 and Legacy 450 executive jets. The new project could create 600 jobs and add 250,000 square feet to Embraer’s operations on the Space Coast, which already include the company’s customer center, the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 assembly plants, and a paint facility. The current employee count exceeds 260. Also, Embraer plans to open its Engineering and Technology Center in Melbourne sometime early next year, employing about engineers.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and SkyWest Airlines are partnering on a new program that gives Embry-Riddle students a substantial boost toward becoming SkyWest first officers.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and SkyWest Airlines are partnering on a new program that gives Embry-Riddle students a substantial boost toward becoming a SkyWest first officer. Under the agreement, Aeronautical Science (professional pilot) students who have achieved a Certified Flight Instructor rating are eligible to apply for the SkyWest Pilot Cadet Program through the Career Services offices at Embry-Riddle’s campuses in Daytona Beach and Prescott, Ariz. Embry-Riddle has similar agreements with other airlines— American Eagle/American, Cape Air/JetBlue and ExpressJet/Delta—in which students start flying for smaller airlines associated with large carriers. In other news: For the fifth year in a row, Military Advanced Education has honored Embry-Riddle as one of the best schools for active- duty military and veterans in its 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities.


Beach By Design

Approximately 2,000 new rooms are being proposed for picturesque Clearwater Beach, as part of a hotel renaissance in Pinellas County.

Call it Pinellas County’s beach hotel renaissance, led by Clearwater Beach, where about 2,000 rooms are proposed. There is plenty of available space, too. Beach By Design, a 2001 master plan to encourage and guide redevelopment of then- sagging Clearwater Beach, was amended in 2008 to create a hotel-density reserve of 1,385 units in hopes of attracting mid- price hotels. Density reserve units allow developers to pack more hotel rooms onto a property than would otherwise be allowed and help with financing projects on expensive beach land. And that’s the current plan.

MacDill Air Force Base

Tampa, the epicenter of international special ops coordination? Just maybe. The U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, has established the International Special Operations Forces Coordination Center. The center, known as the ISCC, for the first time provides foreign special operations liaisons space in the Special Operations Command headquarters to coordinate activities around the world. The simple concept: Special operations leaders from around the world can gather in the same room and have the ability to communicate on a secure, common system.

Community Health Systems

Mergers and acquistions are alive and well across the state. Roughly $19 billion in deals were recorded in Q3, making it the strongest period for Florida since the same period in 2007, according to a report from the Mergermarket Group. During the previous five years, Florida had posted one deal worth more than $2 billion. Three such deals occurred in the past quarter worth a combined $15.7 billion. Among the biggest was Community Health Systems’ $7 billion acquisition of the hospital chain run by Naples-based Health Management Associates. That added four Tampa Bay area hospitals to the portfolio of Tennessee-based Community Health. Pharmaceuticals, medical and biotech continued to be Florida’s dominant sector by deal value (17 deals worth a combined $8.9 billion).

Retail Process Engineering LLC

Tech companies are finding Pasco County particularly appealing. Most recently, Retail Process Engineering LLC, an information technology consulting firm serving retail clients worldwide, purchased an office building in Land O’ Lakes. The company is expanding and bringing a total of 16 new jobs to the county, with an average wage of $105,000, more than three times the Pasco County average annual wage. It’s the fourth tech company to locate there this year.

Healthplan Services

Healthplan Services is expanding its headquarters in Tampa, a move that could create more than 1,000 new jobs by 2018 and bring $34.4 million in capital investment to Hillsborough County. The administrative services provider for the insurance and managed care markets is developing a 95,689-square-foot facility in eastern Hillsborough to accommodate the
expansion. Healthplan Services currently employs 652 people in the county, with an additional 119 employees throughout the state. Hillsborough and Tampa were among multiple locations, including Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio, that sought the new jobs and investment.