Florida Moves to Protect Orlando’s Defense Simulation Cluster

Florida Moves to Protect Orlando’s Defense Simulation Cluster

Local leaders in Central Florida believe a state-funded initiative to build an office park to house 3,000 defense workers involved in simulation, training and gaming should protect the region from losing the activity through a future realignment action.

The military and civilian personnel, who primarily oversee contracts, currently are housed in 200,000 square feet of leased space adjacent to Naval Support Activity Orlando. Local concerns about a DOD effort to move the workers — through a BRAC or non-BRAC action — into underutilized space at military installations to save money spurred the Central Florida Partnership to secure funding to relocate the personnel within Orlando, reported National Defense magazine. Florida lawmakers ultimately approved $42 million for the office park.

The initiative would “mitigate the risk that they could be realigned, with or without BRAC, as a cost saving measure,” said Thomas Baptiste, president of the Orlando-based National Center for Simulation.

Loss of the defense workers involved in simulation almost certainly would result in an exodus of contractors who support the mission. The industry in Orlando generates $6 billion in economic activity and employs 75,000 workers, according to the story.

Moving those offices into state-owned buildings would slash their leasing costs by 80 percent, Baptiste said.

“We have to set the conditions to continue to grow this industry,” said Baptiste. “If the industry is in the research park, it’s because that’s where the contracts are. And if the contracting workers moved, the companies would relocate.”

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