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Space Florida pursues project with mystery firm ‘Project Oz’ that will create 500 jobs

In the past decade, the Space Coast has transformed from a government launch site to a hub for commercial space launches, manufacturing, aviation work and more. A $250 million mystery project may the area's next addition.

Space Florida aims to lure an unnamed company to the Sunshine State, bringing a $250 million facility and 500 high-wage jobs with it.

The Merritt Island-based statewide spaceport development authority’s board of directors on March 31 will consider approving a term sheet with “Project Oz,” according to public records. A term sheet is a non-binding agreement, but it sets the stage for the securing of the project, which would mean construction and job creation in the area.

The documents give no indication of what Project Oz does, and it’s common for Space Florida to keep companies it negotiates with anonymous until an official agreement is made between the two parties. 

Space Florida will evaluate Project Oz’s eligibility for matching grant funds under the Spaceport Improvement Program. The Florida Department of Transportation program provides funds to projects that improve Florida’s aerospace transportation facilities or capabilities. This indicates Project Oz is involved in the aerospace industry, and it’s likely the firm is interested in setting up shop in one of the state’s six Federal Aviation Administration-recognized spaceports, five of which are in Brevard County. 

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In addition to the Spaceport Improvement Program funds, Space Florida will pursue financing of lease and sublease agreements for construction and equipment purchases. 

In addition to the $250 million facility Project Oz would bring to Florida, Space Florida projects it will create high-wage 500 jobs by 2025. Those jobs are important because they pay an average wage of $100,000, compared with the Palm Bay metro’s average annual wage of $51,740, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Meanwhile, the chance to land state funds is often a point of emphasis for companies seeking to establish large facilities, Boyd added. “Incentives often play the role of tie breaker.”

Space Florida, as well as the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and other state and local groups, has been aggressive in attracting aviation, defense, manufacturing and commercial aerospace operations to the Space Coast since the Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011 and contributed to high unemployment in Brevard County. 

Today, the Space Coast not only is home to government installations like NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but it also is a launch site for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in addition to being the home of OneWeb Satellite’s manufacturing plant, the headquarters of The Boeing Co.’s space division and a place where Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin builds rockets.

Last year, Space Florida was successful in securing a Terran Orbital Corp. manufacturing plant in Cape Canaveral. The facility is projected to create 1,200 high-wage jobs by 2025.

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This article first appeared in Orlando Business Journal

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