Orlando EDC touts partnerships, thousands of jobs created

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 02, 2016, 10:59 PM EDT

New companies moving to Central Florida are creating thousands of jobs, and the decisions to come here are due, in part, to partnerships set up by the Orlando Economic Development Commission.

  • Orlando EDC: 30 projects, projected 5,600 jobs coming
  • Includes ICAMR/IMEC project in Osceola County
  • Partnership will manufacture sensors for phones and computers

“This has been the strongest year ever for the Orlando Economic Development Commission, in its almost 40-year history," said Laureen Martinez, with the Orlando Economic Development Commission.

The EDC said in 2016, 30 projects -- their partnerships with companies -- amounted to a projected 5,600 jobs coming to Central Florida.

“It could take months, but often it takes years," said Martinez, of the process of cultivating relationships with potential companies. "Our EDC directors really work with companies and get to know what their needs are, and assist them in finding what they're looking for."

Martinez said one of the EDC's biggest accomplishments was getting ADP to create 1,600 jobs in Central Florida.

“This really is a diverse, vibrant and inclusive community. And I think that the world is finally getting to know that," she said.

PROJECTS AND PARTNERSHIPS

One of those projects is in Osceola County, off U.S. 192 and Florida's Turnpike, where a high-tech manufacturing company is taking shape. On the 500-acre site, a large, concrete building rises; construction workers are preparing to hook up electricity.

Belgium-born Bert Gyselinckx, and his European nano electronics research company, IMEC, wanted to be a part of it.

“Many of our customers have been asking for the last few years, 'When are you going to create an office in the U.S.?' And that is now. That is now really happening," said Gyselinckx.

For the last few months, he’s been between Belgium and Florida, patiently waiting for the foundry to take shape and his visa to come through.

“So, I’m collecting a lot of frequent flier miles," he said with a smile. “It looks slightly different, every time I’m here.”

“Honestly, I was a little concerned about what we would actually manufacture," said Chester Kennedy, the CEO of The International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, or ICAMR.

Then Kennedy, whose company is building this campus, met Gyselinckx. In July, the companies inked a partnership to manufacture sensors that go into cell phones or computers.

Kennedy said that the Orlando EDC was an early supporter.

“They understood the economic impact that this capability could bring to the region," he explained.

“The ICAMR project in Osceola County really changed the face of Osceola County," said Martinez. "They have some industry partners that they work with in a very highly-specialized area, and that sets the tone for the future as ICAMR continues to grow."

A FUTURE SILICON VALLEY?

Back in the construction trailer, behind a table covered in hard hats, Kennedy eyes a series of posters on the wall. They depict other U.S. tech hubs, from the Silicon Valley in California to Austin, Texas. The posters, he said, serve as inspiration.

“We’re hoping to see this high-tech campus really evolve and become the coolest place on the planet for the next generation of employees to work," he said. "And we've got such a great place: We've got great weather, a great location, the infrastructure, the airport. The foundation is here."

As an architectural firm designs the campus, which will include a 150-acre lake, construction continues on the main building. It should be done in the next few months.

"Then we'll turn all the machines on," said IMEC's Gyselinckx. "A couple months later we'll have the first devices coming out that we can start using."

“I think it’ll be a big thing for Florida, to get a vibrant, high-tech community up and running," said Gyselinckx. “It’s a great relief that I can finally get going here, ramp up the team."

The ICAMR-IMEC partnership hopes to hire 100 people in coming years.