Regionalism is a central term in the modern economy. Historic boundaries that define cities, counties and states simply do not apply to commerce and innovation. In Central Florida, on average, more than 40 percent of the residents who live in a particular county work in another. For some counties it is over 70 percent. Our seven-county region is the 15th most populous in the United States, leading both Tampa and Seattle, while boasting the 13th largest workforce, with a combined GDP of a staggering $175.3 billion.
The other terms shaping these regions are partnership and collaboration. Economies are, by their very nature, a symbiotic entity. Our world-famous tourism industry has become the catalyst for world-class airports, infrastructure and venues, which are essential to attracting a world-class talent pool. Challenges like quality of life, education, nurturing a favorable business environment and helping those in need are issues no single entity can tackle alone. What is more, the opportunities in front of us can only be realized as we see ourselves as individual players on a much larger stage.
As we think of that larger stage, few new companies coming to this area are more visionary and have the potential for a global impact than OneWeb. (see page 16)
Kai Schmidt is the Human Resources Director for Airbus OneWeb Satellites; Airbus being the largest aerospace company in Europe and an initial investor in one of the most innovative new firms in the area. The audacious goal of OneWeb is to deploy an array of some 650 satellites around the globe to create affordable Internet access for everyone, everywhere in the world. If that is not amazing enough, they not only plan to design and test these satellites here, but also plan to manufacture and launch them.
Schmidt, a native of Germany, has found living and working in the United States, and particularly Florida, enjoyable. “I was born in June and have always enjoyed warm sunny weather. Even in the summer here, the sunshine seems to clear away a lot of the stress that goes with ramping up for an operation like we’re planning,” he commented. “Also, I like the pace that things move here. Though businesses all have a hierarchy, there’s a collaborative, horizontal feel that permeates the work environment that’s similar to the way things are in Germany.”