Published by the Orlando Business Journal on November 16, 2012
Rick Weddle, 61, believes emerging industries will lead to more high-quality jobs for Central Florida.
He’s president and CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Comission, which, since its start in 1977, has helped create more than 169,000 jobs and $9.2 billion in capital investment by helping companies grow here.
Local emerging industries with the most potential: Modeling, simulation and training; aviation and aerospace; alternative and clean energy; pharmaceuticals; and biotechnology
Why these industries: It is expensive to train people by physically putting them in the situation, but using simulators is very low-cost. As companies conserve resources, this will become more prominent.
How best to foster them: Enabling opportunities in advanced technology can create, for example, simulation training for the medical industry. We need to continue to make strategic investments in education and basic research.
Big challenge: Communities must establish what their emerging industries are and make them a top priority.
To attract more companies: We’re developing a brand initiative to help businesses recognize Florida’s various industries and commercial activities, rather than just our theme parks. We want Central Florida on companies’ short-list.
I’m working on: A strategic framework that will determine what this region could become over the next 20 to 30 years. We’re not just growing to get bigger; we’re growing to get better.