With the aerospace industry gaining momentum in the Daytona Beach area, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President Barry Butler reeled people's memory back to part of how it all started.
On April 1965, 100 Volusia County business individuals helped move the school from Miami to Daytona Beach in trucks. Over 50 years later, ERAU has grown into what it is today — a university with its flagship campus in Daytona Beach, a second campus in Prescott, Arizona, and a third one in Singapore. This year's freshman class is 21% bigger, and the majority of enrolled students are split between the college of aviation and the college of engineering.
A new hangar is coming soon to the school's Research Park on Clyde Morris Boulevard by the Daytona Beach International Airport, and Butler said at the Daytona Regional Chamber's Eggs and Issues program on Thursday, Aug. 8, that the school continues to encourage student internships to retain youth in the community post-graduation.
“We like to be part of, in essence, changing the fabric of Daytona," Butler said.
Over the last five years, ERAU has received about $60 million in grants. Butler also announced that its Florida NextGen Test Bed got a five-year extension from the Federal Aviation Administration with possibility for up to $63 million in funding.
Butler said the aerospace community continues to work to attract more businesses to the area, and that representatives from the Department of Transportation, Boeing, Airbus and Delta have toured the ERAU campus and its surrounding facilities.
Volusia Square off International Speedway Boulevard is also on its way to become Space Square. Developer Chad Hagle said he was proud to be involved in the growth and renaissance of the "Daytona Beach aerospace ecosystem" by providing up to 200,000 square feet of leasable space for companies. He hopes Space Square will become a "stepping stone" for businesses that grow out of Embry-Riddle's incubating program.
“Our vision for Space Square, more broadly, is to create this collaborative community where these companies can co-locate and cooperate and work together and share ideas," Hagle said. Space Square is expected to begin leasing space in early 2020.
Chamber President and CEO Nancy Keefer said things are "really exciting" now. Just a few months ago she and others were having coffee and exchanging ideas on the subject, she added.
“This isn’t just a dream or a wish," Keefer said. "This is really happening.”