Mayor Jacobs speaking with a man at Blue Ribbon event

Mayor Jacobs’ Modeling, Simulation & Training Blue Ribbon Commission Tours Downtown Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem


Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Modeling, Simulation & Training Blue Ribbon Commission, a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders advocating for this high-value and high-wage economic sector in Florida, recently toured Lockheed Martin, EA Sports and the Downtown Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

MS&T Commission Chairman Waymon Armstrong, co-founder and president of Engineering & Computer Simulations Inc. and Thomas l. Baptiste, Lt. Gen., USAF (Ret), President and Executive Director of the National Center for Simulation, kicked off the tour with a briefing and legislative update before the group embarked on a tour of Lockheed Martin’s Orlando facilities, which employs approximately 4,043 local residents.

“Protecting, nourishing and growing this capital-intensive and innovation-driven sector is vital for all future generations of Floridians,” Mayor Jacobs said. “The Blue Ribbon Commission continues to educate key audiences about the reach, breadth and diversity of this key economic driver and brings awareness regarding the highly synergistic nature of MS&T to other key sectors of our economy.”

After a meeting with executives from Lockheed Martin and a tour of its Orange County operations, the group departed for a walking tour of the Downtown Orlando Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. Stops were made at Canvs, a nonprofit coworking space for technologists and entrepreneurs, the renovated Church Street Exchange building, software company Voxeo, digital creative agency PRPL (Purple, Rock, Scissors) and a meeting with entrepreneur Johnathan Taylor who owns the tech firm EntreNext.

During lunch, the group watched a screening of the Orlando Rising documentary. David Glass, publisher of the Florida Technology Journal, and Kai Isaac, CEO and producer of FilmScape Production, talked about digital technology and the incredible momentum the tech and digital industries have built in Central Florida.

Daryl Holt, vice president and chief operating officer of EA SPORTS, led the group’s final tour of the company’s Maitland headquarters. EA SPORTS is an international award-winning developer of sports video games including Madden NFL, FIFA, NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR, NHL, NCAA Football, and EA SPORTS UFC.

The Blue Ribbon Commission continues to be supported by a broad coalition of supporters including U.S. Congressman John Mica, Rick Weddle of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission Jacob V. Stuart of the Central Florida Partnership and Randy Berridge of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

The Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are at the core of the region’s simulation and training industry, contributing nearly $5 billion to Florida’s gross state product, nearly 30,000 high-tech jobs, with salaries averaging $70,000 per year. When combined, with indirect and induced jobs, the industry employs more than 60,000 citizens who call the region home.

The Commission commenced its efforts with an inaugural meeting at Orange County’s administrative center on June 24, 2013. Members of the Commission come from the broader seven-county region including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard and Volusia counties. Members of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission include:

  • Commission Chairman, Waymon Armstrong, President, ECS
  • Thomas l. Baptiste, Lt. Gen., USAF (Ret), President and Executive Director of the National Center for Simulation
  • Myron Brown, CEO, Diverse Networking
  • Celeste Brown, District Director, Office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
  • Beth Brunner, CEO, EMLRC
  • Chris Carmody, Attorney, Gray Robinson
  • Warren Christie, Vice President, JetBlue
  • Dr. Cheryl Cicotti, Assistant Dean, Nursing Program, Seminole State College
  • David Clutts, President/Owner, Civil Engineering Solutions
  • Edward Ellegood, Director of Aerospace Development, Embry-Riddle University, Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Susan Fernandez, District Director, Office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
  • Jay Freeland, CEO, Faro Technologies
  • Dr. Stephen Gardell, Scientific Resources and Associate Professor, Burnham Institute
  • Dr. Deborah German, Dean, UCF College of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs, UCF College of Medicine
  • Tom Green, President, Providence-One
  • Nathan Hawkins, Vice President, Vista Clinical Diagnostics
  • Laura Heiselman, Government Affairs Director, Florida Apartment Association
  • Daryl Holt, Vice President, EA Sports Tiburon
  • Teresa Jacobs, Mayor, Orange County Government
  • Garry Jones, President, Full Sail University
  • Dr. Daniel Kelly, Professor and Scientific Director, Burnham Institute
  • Dale Ketcham, Director, Spaceport Research and Technology Institute
  • David Maatman, Director of Education, EMLRC
  • Dr. Lisa Macon, Division of Architecture, Engineering and Technology, Valencia College
  • John McReynolds, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Universal Orlando
  • Mark Michel, Vice President, CNL Financial Group
  • Michael Poteshman, EVP and CFO, Tupperware Brands
  • Harry Robinson, National Program Manager, VA SimLEARN
  • Phil Ruggieri, CEO, IDEAS
  • Bahaa Saleh, Dean and Director, UCF CREOL
  • Beverly Seay, Vice President, Global Integrated Enterprise Solutions
  • Dr. Thad Seymour, Jr., President, Lake Nona Institute
  • Dr. Sandy Shugart, President, Valencia College
  • Dr. Randall Shumaker, Director, UCF Institute for Simulation and Training
  • Dr. Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer, Nicholson Center
  • Sharon Smoley, Government Relations, Walt Disney World
  • David Taylor, Growth Strategist, WHOLESHEBANG
  • Rick Wassel, Administrator, Nicholson Center
  • Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO, EDC of Florida’s Space Coast

Background: Orange County Mayor Jacobs responded to the looming threats posed by federal budget cuts and potential defense in 2013 by convening the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission. In the midst of Central Florida’s continuing economic recovery, a critical area of vulnerability exists. Our highly valued Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) cluster is challenged with a significant risk of possible sequestration reductions and could face future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) cuts, affecting our military commands and this valuable sector.

Mobilizing this group has created an unprecedented collaboration and partnership between industry, academia, our military and defense contractors, and smart government with the shared goal of protecting this high-tech industry from sequestration and future BRAC recommendations.

For more information on Mayor Jacobs’ Modeling, Simulation and Training Blue Ribbon Commission, visit the Commission’s web page.

A variety of photos from the tour are available for use by the media and are located on Flickr.

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