Florida senator wants to expand Orlando's Central Florida Research Park

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Simulation training is now a big part of preparing military personnel for real-life situations, and the simulation industry as a whole is a huge part of central Florida's local economy.

Sen. Darren Soto said with the federal government looking to save money, there is concern the military training facilities at Central Florida Research Park could fall victim to the base realignment and closure proces.

"Certainly, the multi-billion-dollar simulation industry creates some of the highest paying jobs around here," said Soto.

Soto and other lawmakers are now asking the state legislature for $40 million to $50 million to build help build a new facility for the military to use.

Soto said land isn't the issue. He said the state has plenty of vacant land in the research park area.  So if the state is willing to let the federal government use it, it would save the military millions of dollars a year with lower costs and infrastructure already in place that would make it a less likely target to move somewhere else.

If moved, it could mean $5 billion a year in military simulation contracts and 30,000 high-paid employees going with it.

Soto compared the possible impact to what happened in Brevard County when the shuttle program ended.

"If we lose that, we will literally have a little mini-recession here in our area with so many high-paying jobs fleeing our area," he said.

The National Center for Simulation told Channel 9 Orlando is known around the world as the leader in simulation technology.