Orange County Government, Florida
11 December 2014
Modeling, Simulation and Training Cluster is Powerhouse in Economic Development
Mayor Jacobs shared the importance of the MS&T sector with local and international leaders during I/ITSEC2014. (From left) Dr. Mike Brennan, board member of Simulation Australia; Mayor Jacobs; Marcus Watson, chairman of Simulation Australia; Beverly Seay, University of Central Florida trustee and MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission member; and Waymon Armstrong, President Engineering & Computer Simulations, Inc. and chair of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs continues to champion the region’s Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) cluster and recently hosted several events to support this high-value, high-wage economic driver in Central Florida.

“This capital-intensive sector is one of our region’s most important economic assets,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Protecting, nourishing, and growing this innovation-driven sector is vital for all future generations of Floridians.”

The MS&T industry contributes nearly $5 billion to Florida's gross state product and directly employs more than 27,000 Floridians, with an annual average salary of almost $70,000.

In December, Mayor Jacobs hosted Orange County’s MS&T Blue Ribbon reception at the Orange County Convention Center and lauded the decision of the Florida Legislature to appropriate $8 million toward the expansion of the MS&T training complex at the Central Florida Research Park.

Mayor Jacobs founded the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission in June 2013 to bring together a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders to generate awareness regarding the highly synergistic nature of MS&T to other key sectors of Orange County’s economy, including medical, gaming, education, aviation/aerospace, animation/theme park, emergency management and public safety.

The reception coincided with STEM Week (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the world’s largest MS&T trade show – the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).

Hosted annually at Orange County’s Convention Center, I/ITSEC attracts more than 500 corporations, government and research organizations from the United States and other countries around the globe. The Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are at the core of the simulation and training industry and play a vital role in MS&T development.

In November, Mayor Jacobs hosted a meeting with Central Florida’s military leadership focusing on the impact the armed forces has in training initiatives and how Orange County can continue to be in sync with local military command leaders to support these efforts. Attendees included MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission chair Waymon Armstrong, George Cheros, Col. Bradley M. Crites, Major Gen. Jonathan Maddux, Lt. Col. Walter Yates and Col. Gary Laase.

Armstrong, founder and president of Engineering & Computer Simulations, Inc., received the i4 Business Magazine’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year” award from Mayor Jacobs on Dec. 4 at the Citrus Club. Since his firm’s inception in 1997, Armstrong has led the firm in delivering innovative PC-based game technology through advanced distributed learning environments.

Other members of the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission represent the broader seven-county region, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard and Volusia counties.

“This industry is an economic powerhouse in our region and we look forward to continuing to support it as it flourishes in our backyard,” Orange County Economic Administrator Eric Ushkowitz said.

A collection of photos from the MS&T Blue Ribbon reception are available on Flickr for use by the media.