MODELING, SIMULATION AND TRAINING BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION
The Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) Blue Ribbon Commission was convened by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs in 2013 in response to the looming threat posed by federal budget cuts. The Commission’s goal was to form a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders to advocate for the high-value, high-wage industry of modeling and simulation in Florida. The MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission held its inaugural meeting in June 2013.
ABOUT MS&T IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Central Florida’s robust MS&T sector contributes more than $6 billion to Florida’s gross state product and directly employs more than 30,000 Floridians with an average annual salary of almost $79,000. The Central Florida Research Park, located next to the University of Central Florida, is the epicenter of the MS&T industry and fosters collaboration, cooperation and partnership between academia, industry and government. The Central Florida Research Park is the home of the National Center for Simulation, founded in 1993.
In the midst of Central Florida's economic recovery, a critical vulnerability was identified. Analysis showed that the highly valuable MS&T industry in Florida faced possible sequestration and could be exposed to future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) cuts, affecting the state’s military commands and this valuable sector.
The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Commission is to help Central Florida’s defense partners tell its MS&T story, educate key audiences about the reach, breadth, and diversity of this key economic driver and to bring awareness regarding the highly synergistic nature of MS&T to other key sectors of our economy, including medical, gaming, education, aviation/aerospace, digital media, animation/theme park, emergency management and public safety.
By working with the sector’s industry partners, including Orange County’s MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission, Orlando Economic Partnership, The Corridor, Team Orlando, the City of Orlando, Seminole County, Central Florida Research Park, the National Center for Simulation, the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force, OCPS Tech Centers, and the Florida Defense Support Task Force, Central Florida is investing in the future of this high-tech industry.
Thanks to the efforts of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission and its partners, the State of Florida has recognized the importance of the MS&T cluster’s presence in Central Florida and the industry statewide. Over the course of three years (2014-2016), state legislation appropriated $42 million to help the military commands at the Central Florida Research Park reduce their operating costs by moving out of leased space. This will save them millions of dollars annually. In addition to the Central Florida delegation, many other lawmakers championed the efforts to secure funding for this high-value, high-wage industry including Gov. Rick Scott, former Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and Florida Representative Speaker Steve Crisafulli.
Since 2015, Mayor Jacobs and the National Center for Simulation have hosted a highly attended annual conference to highlight the importance of the industry in Florida. Now in its third year, the Florida Simulation Summit showcases continuing progress, synergy and support for the MS&T industry in Central Florida and statewide.
Members of the Commission came from the seven-county region, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard, and Volusia counties. The Commission helped to align the County’s approach to be in sync with local military command leaders and to serve as a resource for industry leaders in telling the story of the science-driven, innovation-based MS&T economy. Mobilizing this group created unprecedented collaboration and partnership between industry, academia, military and defense contractors and government, with the shared goal of protecting this high-tech industry from sequestration and future BRAC recommendations, and growing Central Florida’s MS&T assets.