Florida Launches New Organization to Plan its Future in Space Industry

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Florida is launching a new mission to attract high-tech companies and jobs in the space industry. Monday marked the inaugural meeting of the board of directors of Space Florida, the state’s new space agency.

Gov. Jeb Bush says the state needs to be aggressive if it’s to ride the space industry into the future.

Florida’s beloved space shuttles will fly their final missions within just five years. Now the space race is on to see which state will be home base for the next generation of space vehicles, and Florida wants it badly.

Jeb Bush kicked off the first meeting of the new state agency Space Florida by saying Florida needs to be aggressive, both to maintain the 30,000 space-related jobs already here and to lure new ones.

Bush says that means thinking outside the box, like maybe bringing in companies that send private citizens into space.

“If the technology advances for those flights to go on a low-cost basis, it could open up many, many opportunities and we want to be part of it.”

One of the key areas Florida needs to step up its game is its workforce. State officials are recognizing the need to grow a well-educated population with strong backgrounds in math and science.

State lawmakers appropriated close to $50 million to create the agency Space Florida and provide incentives to attract more aerospace firms. Two million will go to improve math and science education.

State business development exec Pam Dana says Florida has always been a leader in the space industry.

“But we could lose that leadership role if we don’t play our cards right, so part of our developing the workforce is to start young, get young people inspired about math and science.”

The future of Florida’s four and a half billion dollar space industry could depend on it.