Lisa Nason, Orange County Government, Interim Communications Division Manager
(407) 836-7343 or

Terri Bernhardt, Engineering and Computer Simulations, Communications Specialist
(407) 883-5181 or

MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission Tours Downtown Locations

Orange County, FL – Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) Blue Ribbon Commission toured key downtown locations today in a fact-finding mission that included stops at IDEAS, and the FIEA/UCF Center for Emerging Media. Leaders from seven Central Florida counties participated in an effort to gain knowledge of the critical MS&T assets that propel the region’s innovation-driven, high-wage, high-technology sector.

Mayor Jacobs formed the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission to work in partnership with the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force (MODTF) and others in helping to protect and grow Central Florida’s MS&T cluster. The purpose of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission is to help defense partners tell the broader MS&T story to key audiences; to bring awareness regarding the highly synergistic nature of MS&T with other key sectors of our economy – including the medical, gaming, education, aviation-aerospace, animation/theme park, emergency management and public safety sectors; and to help educate key audiences about the reach, and diversity of this key economic driver.

“MS&T represents precisely the type of science-driven discovery and high-tech economic activity that is so vital to our future,” said Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Mayor. “In partnership with our local military commands and numerous defense contractors, the economic strength resulting from our MS&T assets will allow Florida and our region to remain at the forefront of national and global innovation economies.

In the midst of Central Florida’s continuing economic recovery, a critical area of vulnerability still exist from sequestration “realignments” to future BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) closures which would dramatically and negatively impact the MS&T sector and local economy. Without action, Central Florida could be looking at a second catastrophic blow to the economy, similar to the massive cuts that resulted from the end of the Space Shuttle program. Team Orlando has been identified as a high risk for significant realignment, meaning that our MS&T units are extremely vulnerable to being re-located to an installation in the competitor states of Alabama or Virginia.

According to Blue Ribbon Commission Chairman Waymon Armstrong, “As Chairman, I am deeply grateful for the work of our Congressional and state leaders, the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force (MODTF) and others in protecting against sequestration and additional imminent threats.” Continued Armstrong, “Working with Mayor Jacobs, it is my intention to lead the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission in partnering with defense industry leaders, elected officials and others in helping to protect and grow our MS& T cluster.”

In September, Blue Ribbon Commission members toured “Team Orlando” joint military command installation and National Center for Simulation at the Central Florida Research Park.

On December 2nd, a joint meeting of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission and the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force will be held at the annual I/ITSEC meeting. The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) is the largest gathering of its type in the world. Founded in 1966, I/ITSEC promotes cooperation among the Armed Services, Industry, Academia and various Government agencies in pursuit of improved training and education programs, identification of common training issues and development of multiservice programs. For more information,

Members of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission represent the broader seven-county region, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard and Volusia counties. The commission will meet with the Central Florida Legislative Delegation next to discuss the upcoming 2014 session.

Commission members include:

  • Commission Chairman, Waymon Armstrong, President, ECS
  • 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
  • Jay Galbraith, Director of Government Affairs, Sea World Orlando
  • 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
  • Patrick Kelly, District Representative, Office of Congressman John Mica
  • 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
  • Lisa Nason, Chief of Strategy and Public Policy, Orange County Government
  • Juliana Peña, Office of Economic Trade and Tourism Program Coordinator, Orange County Government
  • 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
  • Eric Ushkowitz, Economic Development Administrator, Orange County Government
  • Rick Wassel, Administrator, Nicholson Center
  • Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO, EDC of Florida’s Space Coast

About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its residents and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, one of the nation’s largest convention centers and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners, including the Mayor, who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit or go to Orange County Government’s social media channels.

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