Florida Today
October 11, 2008




Our views: Speaking of business

Brevard can grow jobs by luring another aircraft-maker and backing incubator’s work

The best economic news to hit Brevard County this year — and boy, we needed it — was the announcement that Brazilian jet-maker Embraer was opening a manufacturing plant at Melbourne International Airport.

And with it 200 high-skill, high-paying jobs plus spin-offs as other firms move here to work with the company.

The deal came after Embraer received more than $12 million in local, county and state economic incentives — a wise investment for lucrative long-term return.

Now another aircraft maker called Comp Air Aviation is eyeing the airport, calling it their preferred location if the right incentives are offered. The initial production would create about 50 jobs but could result in as many as 2,000 by 2012 at a new manufacturing plant that would build six-to-12-seat planes for sale in the U.S., China and Russia.

The same group of officials who lured Embraer should craft another attractive package to land the firm, with the appropriate checks to make sure the company would live up to its job-creation promises. The officials include those with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Melbourne airport, Brevard County and the city of Melbourne.

They’re facing a stiff headwind with the company also studying sites in Virginia and New Mexico, so they should act quickly.

Beyond the badly needed jobs, snaring Embraer was important because it put the Space Coast on the map as a place for aviation manufacturing. Comp Air Aviation would further bolster the image that Brevard — with a business-friendly climate and skilled work force — is a good place to set up shop.

We say pull out the stops to land the deal.

Meanwhile, here’s another hopeful sign for our economic future:

New businesses are taking root at the barely one-year-old Business Innovation Center in Melbourne.

The center is run by the Titusville-based Technological Research and Development Authority, a mostly federally funded agency that helps high-tech entrepreneurs get rolling.

The 10 start-ups leasing space include computer software makers in areas ranging from communications to weather forecasting to solar power cells. Others are focusing on medical devices for brain surgery and designing light sport aircraft.

However, some of the young firms could go belly-up because of the credit crisis that’s strangling investment, says TRDA director Chester Straub Jr. Still, he notes the companies have a better chance than other infant outfits because their involvement in the incubator means “they’re not going into a funding request cold.”

We’ve supported the incubator since its inception because of its potential to grow high-tech firms from the ground up. We feel as strongly today when the plummeting economy makes it as important as ever to look down the road.

After all, you never know who will be the next Bill Gates.



Join our Email List: