June 13, 2008

Earth to Space Florida

Florida's Space Coast is just a short drive from Orlando. In fact, many people who live in Orlando work in Brevard County, and vice versa. So the well-being of Florida's space industry very much has an impact on Central Florida.

Which is why an Associated Press article today caught my attention. The article, by Travis Reed, discusses the retirement of the space shuttle program and its impact on communities around Cape Canaveral.

Beyond Brevard County, the retiring of the space shuttle also will have a negative impact on the state's economy. Because of the shuttle, Florida is home to the best and the brightest in the space industry. If they move elsewhere when the shuttle retires (Texas, Arizona, China) they'll never come back. That's why the state funds Space Florida, the economic development agency responsible for sustaining Florida's aerospace dominance beyond the shuttle program.

But Space Florida was not quoted or mentioned in the article. Maybe that was the reporter's fault, but it may also be Space Florida's fault. Either way, the state missed a great opportunity to communicate its message to audiences across the country. As of this posting, the AP article has been picked up by more than 50 media outlets, including LA Times, Newsday, Newsweek, CNN, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald, Forbes, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe and our own Orlando Sentinel.

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