ORLANDO – Further cementing this region’s ties to European businesses, a global technology leader based in Paris just announced they will expand operations in Central Florida, creating hundreds of jobs here, while investing more than $20 million in the region.
The office of Gov. Rick Scott announced on Monday that Thales Group, a leader in the aerospace, transport, defense and security markets, has confirmed plans for the expansion.
Scott is in London attending the Farnborough Air Show. Thales has been attending the air show.
“I am proud to announce that Thales chose Florida to expand and create 500 new jobs,” Scott said. “We met with Thales at the Paris Air Show last year and it’s great to make this exciting announcement today in London. I look forward to seeing their continued success in our state.”
Florida is already home to more than 2,000 aerospace and aviation companies, with an employment base of nearly 80,000 workers.
Florida has also been a major hub for flight training and is the No. 2 state in aviation, aerospace and space establishments.
Thales’ expansion, the governor’s office noted, is expected to create 327 new jobs in Melbourne and 173 new jobs in Orlando.
Thales now has 62,000 employees in 56 countries, including more than 22,000 engineers and researchers. Thales also has an InFlyt Experience unit that is now recognized as a world leader in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity market.
Alan Pellegrini, president and CEO of Thales USA, issued a statement saying Florida’s business friendly environment helped make this expansion a reality.
“We are pleased to be able to further expand our competitive footprint in Florida. The state’s pro-business agenda is helping to enable our targeted growth,” Pellegrini noted.
Central Florida has long been a popular spot with residents of Britain, who makes up the second largest percentage of international visitors to the Orlando area, after Canadians.
The Orlando area is also home to a growing number of British business owners who have come here on an E2 work visa to start their own company, and they are particularly well represented in the thriving vacation home industry in Polk and Osceola counties. Vacation homes are fully furnished houses rented out on a short-term basis.
The Orlando housing market has also been a popular location with British investors and second-home buyers.
The announcement by Thales comes at a time when the Orlando job market is showing great strength. The Orlando area added 53,900 new private-sector jobs over the year in January, the highest number of new jobs among all of Florida’s metro areas.
The industries with the highest job gains were professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation, and utilities, the state announced.
Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said Florida’s aerospace industry is “a leader in the nation and the world,” and Thales’ expansion will only add to that reputation.
“We are pleased that international aviation companies like Thales are choosing Florida to expand their businesses,” Proctor said in a statement. “The highly skilled workforce available in Melbourne and Orlando will help Thales thrive as it continues to grow in Florida.”
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..