3D-printed prosthetic arms inspired by Marvel comic characters, high-performance sealants and adhesives custom made in record time, and even masterfully crafted corn tortillas and chips – what do these very different products have in common? They are manufactured in a place traditionally known for the mass production of great vacation experiences – Orlando.
The theme park capital of the world, Orlando’s capacity to move people and products keeps its industries strongly positioned for success and growth and that includes a growing manufacturing cluster.
“Our ability to build product here is just as good as any other place that we could consider,” says Pat Lavelle, president and CEO of VOXX International, Orlando. “We have the ability to bring in parts from all over the globe and any of the ports are far more accessible than many parts of the United States.”
A worldwide leader in the automotive and consumer electronics industry, VOXX International chose to build its manufacturing facility in Orlando’s Lake Nona in 2015 because of the local-based talent pool for expansion, proximity to major transportation hubs including Orlando International Airport, Port Canaveral and two major interstates, and business friendly climate.
Access to transportation was also a key factor in another company’s decision to build in nearby Kissimmee. Easy Foods, a producer of corn and flour tortillas, chips and other snack products, required easy access to rail lines. The company’s $14 million state-of-the-art facility is located next to the CSX railroad, giving Easy Foods immediate access to national freight transportation.
Easy Foods facility in Osceola County, Fla.
“The new facility allows Easy Foods to triple its capacity to serve markets in the U.S. and internationally,” said William Isaias, president of Easy Foods.
Similarly, Frito-Lay’s recent expansion into Osceola County required close proximity to the SunRail commuter train line so workers could travel to downtown Orlando and parts further north with ease. Its new site “provides a strategically good location for Frito-Lay’s distribution in Florida,” according to Kathy Alfano, senior director of economic development for Frito-Lay, in an interview with the Orlando Business Journal.
Coreslab, a premier producer of hollow core concrete plank products, had very specific needs for its facility – which is why building a new facility made sense for the company. After analyzing its customer base, Coreslab found that the new site would enable the company to deliver its products throughout Florida from its centralized location in Orlando. Coreslab Structures broke ground on its $10 million manufacturing facility in 2015 and completed the 60,000 square foot facility in January 2017.
When initially choosing the site, Coreslab took advantage of the Duke Site Readiness Program – a program that identifies, assesses and improves industrial sites in Florida. Throughout the seven county Orlando region, Duke has assessed and evaluated eight properties, a total of 2,436 acres of pad-ready industrial sites.
Hernon Manufacturing, founded by Israeli Air Force veteran Harry Arnon, moved from New York to Orlando in 1995. The company – which manufacturers sealants and dispensing equipment – choose to expand its presence in 2015, adding 27,000 square feet of additional space (a 160% expansion) and 20 new jobs. Today, the company employs 78 people and exports its U.S.-made products to over 60 countries around the world. In fact, 90% of the world’s leading ammunition manufacturers are benefiting from Hernon’s technology.
“Orlando is a major gateway for merchandise trade between Latin America, the Caribbean, and the world, which helps Hernon to export to 67 countries worldwide,” says Arnon. “Orlando serves as an excellent corridor for businesses looking to expand in Latin America.”
Hernon Manufacturing facility in Sanford, Fla.
In addition to top-ranked infrastructure and a strong workforce, Florida has eliminated the manufacturing and equipment sales tax on manufacturers in 2015, paving a path for the manufacturing of a wide range of goods including aerospace products, food and beverages, communications equipment, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, boats and more.
Orlando’s centralized and accessible location in one of the nation’s fastest growing states makes it the right destination for many manufacturing firms. Learn more about whether Orlando is a good fit for your business here.
Originally published in Business Facilities magazine.