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spenser1058

Untraditional Types Seek Out Traditional Environment

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We've discussed exactly how attractive Mayor Buddy's "Creative Village" may or may not be in attracting new industries. This piece from the New York Times suggests it may not matter:

"Early adapters in everything from gadgets to sportswear, tech folks often grow strangely conventional when it comes to the built environment. Start-ups may have begun life in a garage or cafe, but it seems ultimately all roads lead to the office park. "

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/facebook-plays-it-safe/?hp

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Some things to think about when reading this - and important concepts for Orlando planners to grasp:

1) Apple and Facebook and Google are NOT "creative" companies. They are tech companies, and they tend to have some design connotations, but they are not "creatives". These are businesses which focus on business activities and selling services or products to consumer group. They have a hard product they sell (Google, for instance, sells marketing data).

2) They are CERTAINLY not start-ups! These are big time businesses. They function as businesses. They may not hve been around long, but they are full grown.

3) This is focusing again on the style of a building. It is not focusing on the environment, which accounts for more than just teh built tructures or even the physical environment. The South Bay Peninsula may not have a lot of creative architecture, but it has a definite creative vibe. Did anybody make it to the Min-maker faire I mentioned a few months back? They have on in San Mateo (just up the street from San Jose) that would blow your mind. There is an open attitude towards creating and building that we dont have on this coast. For all the big business and media that is there, they are very open to sharing and building on ideas. It is a very open minded atmosphere. That is the creative environment you need to create in Florida.

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Focusing on types of buildings, of course, is much of what goes on at UP, and the focus of the article. But your point is well-taken. A couple of things come to mind: (1) if any building will do, then maybe Central Florida Research Park out by UCF is sufficient to serve the need. I am also interested that the article notes many of the folks working for the tech firms are choosing to live in San Francisco and using corporate shuttles to get out to the corporate office parks, so perhaps place matters more than the article is suggesting.

It seems our biggest lack is in terms of investing in the startups: back in the days of "Hollywood East" (before the Canadians $ reached par and the provinces as well as other US states increased incentives for film significantly while Florida lagged), and also in moving the space program forward (before and after the move by the Obama administration to increased privatization of the manned effort), Orlando has been challenged in attracting venture capital and infrastructure for startups. I think we're still missing the boat on that, and hopefully the next candidates for mayor (both for Orlando and, eventually, OC) can be encouraged to take an interest in that.

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I think it's the governor who really needs to start focusing on building up industry, and not just rewarding his favorites. Just as San Jose has high tech, the Orlando area should have the new space tech industry locked up. Except it doesn't. True Texas gave them some good economic incentives, but you are not going to get all your engineers to up and move just because your company got a good deal on taxes. Texas offers a strong base of trained engineers, something whih Florida tends to lag behind. The state really needs to invest in education. No company is going to succedd if you dont have qualified workers available to you. The old white collar/blue collar distinctions are gone. There is no such thig as a just plain "engineer" anymore - everything is specialized and dynamic. You should look at a trained workforce as a resource, not an expense.

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The space industry has always been split. KSC was the launch pad with Texas the operations side. California has its fair share because of the research industries. Most of the new commercial space companies are headquartered in California and are not going to move. But they will expand depending where they launch from. So it is not really a question of relocating employees. It is where are they going to hire new employees. And when they choose Florida, they move to Brevard County because that is where the talent is, and that is where they will launch from. Some of the employees choose Orlando but will probably hate the commute. If they have a working spouse, Orlando is a easier choice.

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The space industry has always been split. KSC was the launch pad with Texas the operations side. California has its fair share because of the research industries. Most of the new commercial space companies are headquartered in California and are not going to move. But they will expand depending where they launch from. So it is not really a question of relocating employees. It is where are they going to hire new employees. And when they choose Florida, they move to Brevard County because that is where the talent is, and that is where they will launch from. Some of the employees choose Orlando but will probably hate the commute. If they have a working spouse, Orlando is a easier choice.

That's certainly correct, but of course the interesting part of the new, smaller firms is that they can launch just about anywhere (one outfit is planning to launch from Virginia, for heaven's sake.) What we have to do (and when I say Orlando I meant to say central Florida including Brevard) is make sure we have the talent, the infrastructure and the financial resources to make us the go-to place for space - particularly for manned missions but also unmanned (CCAFS has been launching satellites and such for decades). I have read that some of the Silicon Valley sorts behind SpaceX have thought of the facilities at KSC as out of date and decrepit and we have to make sure that meme doesn't stick. There is no good reason to throw away one of the most high-visibility, well-paying industries there are in the region.

As to the commute, once upon a time before Disney, Orlando's power structure did everything it could to connect us with the Space Coast. That's how both FL 520 (the "Bithlo Cutoff") and the BeeLine Expressway (now BeachLine) came to be, not to mention the infamous Rocket City that has now been absorbed, I guess, into Waterford Lakes. Sentinel publisher Martin Andersen also did everything he could to keep the new arrivals in Brevard attached to Orlando and reading his paper, but he failed, Today was started and spawned the Gannett empire. It's sad, in a way, that, both Orange and Brevard ended up going their own ways (they were both initially the same county) given that two major pieces of infrastructure for the region (the traditional port and the spaceport) are things any other region would kill for. One of the main reasons FTU (now UCF) ended up so far east was to convince the Legislature to fund it based on Brevard's growth, which at the time eclipsed Orange's significantly.

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