This is my first opportunity to present the Florida High Tech Corridor Council (FHTCC) fiscal year summary—the 2019–2020 Annual Report. I am honored to have been selected to lead this truly unique economic development initiative of three of America’s top research universities.
The last year was truly transformational for our organization as a devoted leader retired. We owe Ed Schons our gratitude for carrying on the legacy established by founding president, Randy Berridge. Ed not only succeeded Randy, but has also served The Corridor Council as an adviser and partner in economic development from the outset.
Like so many others, our organization was faced with unprecedented challenges related to COVID-19 about halfway through this fiscal year. I’m proud of our team for achieving success despite these challenges and for approaching potential roadblocks as opportunities to think differently about our work.
The Matching Grants Research Program delivered on its promise to facilitate applied research partnerships. Special efforts included the University of South Florida’s support of COVID-19-related projects to develop personal protection equipment, potential therapies. And, as a part of the University of Central Florida’s COVID-19 relief efforts, an increase in MGRP match investments by up to 200% (compared to the previous fiscal year’s match commitment) to support businesses impacted by the pandemic.
stemCONNECT delivered record-breaking results, creating a digital bridge for nearly 78,000 students and teachers to hear inspiring stories about high-tech careers from hundreds of industry experts. We also provided much-needed support to educational partners confronting the virtual learning environment.
The Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center (FLVEC) continued positioning entrepreneurs for success with a wealth of resources and tools, including information related to business sustainability through a pandemic. FLVEC also surpassed the milestone of 1,000 entrepreneur profiles, furthering the program’s position as a leading community for business owners across the state.
This year, COVID-19-related safety and security concerns resulted in the cancellation of The Corridor Council’s Talent Forum, our longstanding workforce development program, which historically brought career center directors from top universities across the country to The Corridor region to learn about Florida employers’ talent needs and high tech job opportunities. We were saddened to postpone this popular effort and are already looking for new ways to help tech companies attract and cultivate top talent.
Finally, I encourage you to visit FloridaHighTech.com/Magazine to read regularly refreshed editorial content. You may also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for the latest news of regional innovation. We appreciate your help in sharing these stories and supporting our efforts to generate broader awareness of The Corridor.
To the countless volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to advance our mission and lay the stage for an even stronger tomorrow – thank you for investing in our cause. If we have not yet met, I look forward to continuing to build relationships across the region and beyond.
In your service,
Paul A. Sohl | Rear Adm. USN (ret)
CEO, Florida High Tech Corridor Council