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. The MS&T industry contributes more than $4.8 billion to Florida's gross state product and directly employs more than 27,000 Floridians, with an average salary of almost $70,000 annually. Protecting, nourishing, and growing this capital-intensive and innovation-driven sector is vital for all future generations of Floridians.
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, a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders who have accepted leadership roles as advocates for this high-value and high-wage economic sector in Florida. The Blue Ribbon Commission held its inaugural meeting in June 2013.
The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Commission is to help our defense partners tell our 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, animation/theme park, emergency management and public safety.
Members of the Commission come from the broader seven-county region, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard, and Volusia counties. The Commission aligns the County’s approach to be in sync with local military command leaders and serves as a resource for industry leaders in telling the story of the science-driven, innovation-based MS&T economy. Mobilizing this group has created an unprecedented collaboration and partnership between industry, academia, military and defense contractors, and smart government, with the shared goal of protecting this high-tech industry from sequestration and future BRAC recommendations.