Jennifer’s work as Chairwoman of Space Florida has been instrumental in creating thousands of new private sector, space and aerospace related jobs. As Chair of the Space Florida Board, Jennifer made great progress transitioning Florida in to a post-Space Shuttle Era, wherein Florida remains the Space activity capital of the world. Jennifer’s management of a very aggressive program for the Space Florida Board has enabled 15 new or growing aerospace-related programs to thrive in Florida. The result is an anticipated 1,791 jobs within the next five years.
During her first year in office as Lieutenant Governor the State of Florida won a 10 year contract to manage the International Space Station National Laboratory bringing in $15 million per-year to the state for life science research and development. She worked with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to secure Kennedy Space Center as the location for the retired Shuttle Atlantis to put on final display. Additionally, her efforts to capture national contracts landed the operations of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Lockheed Martin's "Marlin" Automated Underwater Vehicle testing and manufacturing in West Palm Beach, the Shuttle Atlantis finding a permanent home at KSC and XCOR Aerospace establishing an East Coast U.S. operational base to manufacture and assemble the XCOR Lynx Mark II suborbital reusable launch vehicles in Florida. August 23, 2012 Jennifer made the Space Florida jobs announcement that XCOR will be creating 152 manufacturing jobs over five years at KSC to fly their Lynx reusable suborbital vehicle in Florida. XCOR provides suborbital space flight and low Earth orbit satellite launch (this is a $235 billion annual market). This is one part of two phases; XCOR will also build a hangar and manufacture its aircraft on the east side of the shuttle Landing Facility.
Jennifer was key in making Cecil Field in Jacksonville a Space Port and bringing additional testing capabilities to the Naval Ordinance and Testing Unit at Cape Canaveral. These substantive projects created high quality sustainable jobs and increased revenue for the state. In October of 2011, Jennifer led a Space Florida Trade Mission to Europe where she signed Memorandum of Understandings with the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the Kingdom of Spain to collaborate on satellite manufacturing. She met with companies from the U.K. which led to at least one U.K. business opening Florida operations on the Space Coast creating new jobs. She also co-hosted the first Space States Forum in Orlando, beginning the dialogue of States playing a greater role in crafting federal Space policies.
For over 18 months, under Jennifer's leadership as Chairperson of Space Florida, she aggressively pursued opportunities to secure and grow a wide variety of space and aerospace-related ventures in Florida. Some of the most significant developments included:
Throughout 2012, under Jennifer's leadership Space Florida executed contracts that readied the facility for the initiation of manufacturing and testing of Boeing Commercial Crew Program. Boeing located it’s Commercial Crew program office headquarters to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. At this site, the company manufactures and tests the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 capsule. The decision by Boeing's leadership to base its CST-100 operations in Florida was the result of hard work by Space Florida and KSC to convert a former Shuttle-era processing facility (the OPF-3) to one that could be managed by Space Florida for commercial use.
In FY2012, Jennifer worked hand in hand with the State Legislature, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to award Cecil Spaceport an FAA horizontal spaceport license. House Bill 59 (sponsored by Senator Wise and Representative Ray) allowed Space Florida to include Cecil in its Master Planning efforts and deem it an official "Spaceport Territory." This bill allowed for space-specific infrastructure upgrades to Cecil Field, preparing it for future horizontal launch customers, and adding another spaceport to Florida's growing network. Today, Florida is the only state that offers both FAA-licensed horizontal and vertical spaceports. This designation opens up Florida to be competitive to attract commercial space tourism operations.
Embraer, a Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer focused on commercial, defense and executive aviation, partnered with Space Florida to announce plans to construct a 67,000 sq. ft. engineering design center focused on aviation R&D and design work at Melbourne International Airport. The company broke ground on its new facility in November 2012. Embraer invested $50M in Florida's Space Coast to date, and continues to have a solid partnership with Jennifer's Space Florida team.
Another Embraer project, the Light Attack Support Aircraft Air Force contract was locked up in federal government politics and bureaucracy. But some progress was made in 2012 as in April the United States International Trade Commission released its findings on the Business Jet Aircraft Industry and with help from Jennifer's testimony before the Commission in support of Embraer found no unfair trade practices were being used by any company. Jennifer stayed in continued dialogue with the Air Force to help move this approval process forward. She wrote support letters, made numerous public speeches, lobbied members of Congress, worked with the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, appeared in promotional public service video to speak in favor of the Super T airplane to be considered for the Air Force Light Air Support contract. Thanks in part to Jennifer's tenacity and hard work Embraer won this contract. This contract added 50 new jobs high wage jobs in Jacksonville and 300 new manufacturing jobs for the First Coast in the long run.
Jennifer announces Boeing CST jobs expansion at Kennedy Space Center
Jennifer and Dr. Cristina Garmendia, Spain's Minister of Science and Innovation, sign Memorandum of Agreement with the Kingdom of Spain for University of Florida to collaborate with satellite manufacturing
Jennifer speaks on the economic impact of commercial space program at the National Space Club Florida Committee
Jennifer worked with XCOR to increase jobs at the Space Coast