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
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
They’re facing a stiff headwind with the company also
studying sites in Virginia and New Mexico, so they should
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
We say pull out the stops to land the deal.
Meanwhile, here’s another hopeful sign for our economic
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
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
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.