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Today’s guest is someone I’ve been looking forward to having in my show for quite some time. Lynda Weatherman is the president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida’s Space Coast. The area covers the Palm Bay, Melbourne, Titusville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) along the East Coast of Florida.
We met last year (2018) in the US and, I can tell you, she is absolutely a Human Dynamo! In 2007, Lynda was honored with the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. It is the highest honor NASA awards to both government and non-government employees. Despite her impressive and massive achievements, she remains humble.
Lynda started her career as a teacher and taught for a couple of years. She then studied Master in Economic Development and left for Hong Kong University to further her education; specialising in International Planning and Development.
Lynda has been committed to her job as the President/ CEO of the EDC since 1995. She believes that an economy cannot be changed in just 4 years. Albeit, almost a generation is needed to be able to diversify an economy or mitigate any challenges.
In this interview, Lynda shares the incredible story behind the event that shook the entire area of Florida’s Space Coast. Everybody, people in or out of the US, know of the massive economic downturn with the end of NASA’s shuttle program.
This resulted in the devastation of the area – unemployment, real estate meltdown and a failing economy coinciding with the deepest and longest recession in the history of the country.
For a context of what happened, you can check out the 60 Minutes episode – A Hard Landing
However, they were able to rise above the crisis and according to Lynda, the unemployment rate is now less than 4%.
“As I’ve said to one of the openings at the OneWeb, economists will be writing about what happened here for years to come because it was a turn around in less than 6 years” – Lynda Weatherman
It is really fascinating and inspiring how Lynda, her colleagues and board of directors in the EDC and everyone in the community joined hands and succeeded. It was tough as well because people in the area, particularly Central and North Brevard, were haunted by the remembrance of the Apollo program layoffs and shutdown in the 70s.
But Lynda and the EDC had a Plan. Listen to the full episode here.
“There are things that can’t be controlled but the key was to let everyone know there’s a pragmatic, realistic and well thought out Plan.” – Lynda Weatherman
Aside from the plan, Lynda had also done an excellent job at carefully shifting people’s mindset. She showed everyone that she’s not indifferent to the problem but she also didn’t overpromise.
Lynda took on the challenge to understand the space industry. She sought out industry experts and tried to see the situation through the lens of her own expertise. She asked herself this question, “What opportunities are taking place in this industry that we can exploit?”
Florida’s Space Coast is primarily a space airport and the country’s launch site for many years. The EDC and the community want that back. They are also working hard to diversify their economy by locating businesses across ranges of industries there (i.e. pharmaceuticals)
In economic development, if you don’t know an industry, you must do everything to understand it. Lynda concludes the economic development in Florida’s Space Coast was achieved through the combination of these factors which can be used for any profession:
- Understanding the industry
- Talking to people and getting their input
- Listening and thinking solutions
- Realistic Plan of action
Truly, Lynda and the EDC played a significant role in the recovery of Florida’s Space Coast area’s hard landing.
Book Recommendation, Habits and Where to Get in Touch:
For professional basis, Lynda recommends the book: Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton
Lynda admits to being technologically naive. She keeps track of everything with a pen, paper, and highlighter. She writes everything down and has one notebook that often she goes and looks back.
You can check out the EDC website at www.SpaceCoastEDC.org
Florida’s Space Coast has also been announced as one of the 19 Best Places in the World to Visit this 2019.
It is really a great place to go.
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Thanks to Jodey Smith, my podcasting technical genius, who does all the bits I don’t
like –the editing, the uploading etc. He is a gem and can be contacted at JodeySmith.com.
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