Since the launch of the Mercury program in 1959, Brevard County’s identity has been inextricably intertwined with space. The space industry has fueled economic growth, defined our character and bestowed international infamy upon the Space Coast. Nowhere is this truth more omnipresent than in Titusville.
For decades, Titusville, a.k.a. “Space City USA,” was a miniature metropolis bustling with activity. The seat of Brevard County, Titusville’s population quintupled between 1960 and 1970, the result of a burgeoning space exploration initiative and expansion of nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Fast forward 40 years, however, and you’d find a very different scene. Here, the terminus of NASA’s shuttle program, national economic recession and a rampant real estate crisis collided with disastrous results.
Though all of Brevard felt the squeeze, Titusville bore the brunt of this “perfect storm.” The result: Dilapidated buildings. Abandoned homes. Property values plummeted. Businesses moved out of town.
“We knew for years the shuttle program would end,” said Holly Carver, long-time Titusville resident, advocate, and former legislative aide to County Commissioner Robin Fisher. “But when it coincided with the recession and housing crisis — it was like getting hit head-on with a hurricane.”
Luckily, the plaintive plight of the “Miracle City” didn’t last long. Commissioner Fisher hatched a plan for bringing Brevard’s north end back to life. Fisher became chairman of the county commission in 2010. By 2011, the commission had created and approved the North Brevard Economic Development Zone (NBEDZ).
NBEDZ empowered North Brevard to provide tax incentives for businesses considering moving to the area and use surplus tax revenue to reinvest in the community. NBEDZ has levied its position to attract aerospace corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, One Web, RUAG, Blue Origin and Embraer, to Titusville. Between Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin alone, they’ll add 630 new jobs with an average salary of $89,000 in the years ahead.
“I created the NBEDZ with the goal of facilitating job growth and economic development in North Brevard,” Fisher said. “Looking at the recent economic and small business growth in North Brevard, I’m happy report it looks like our investment in the zone is working.”
Joining the ranks most recently is Red Canyon, a Colorado-based aerospace software company that plans to transform the historic Walker Hotel into a modernized multi-use mecca for young professionals.
“We believe Titusville is uniquely positioned to become the Silicon Valley of Space 2.0,” the company states on its project website, LaunchNow.Space.
The Greater Titusville Renaissance organization and countless other crusaders have begun to turn the tides for North Brevard. It’s safe to say when it comes to Titusville’s re-launch, all systems are go.