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Grant aimed at keeping simulation industry strong in Central Florida

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Gov. Rick Scott awarded a $350,000 grant to Orlando's National Center for Simulation on Monday.

The center will use that money in an effort to keep Central Florida's Naval Support Activity Base from moving or closing -- a move that would have major economic consequences for the state.

Florida's simulation industry, with its heart in Research Park, is responsible for 27,000 high-wage jobs across the state.

That is why Scott awarded the grant, to help protect the military presence that feeds the simulation industry.

While most bases around the country have tanks, fighter jets and soldiers, Orlando's base is different: it's an office building.

"In military terms, you might describe this as Florida's stealthy jewel. This is the worldwide home of military modeling simulation and training," said Dan Holsenbeck, vice president of university relations at the University of Central Florida.

While you might be able to move those in an office building to another state, you would not be able to move all of its unique connections to central Florida, like UCF, industries like Lockheed Martin, and even Disney World.

"A lot of people don't know that the existence of Disney, and all the animation, and the animatronics, and all of the activities that the attractions use is directly related. The military uses some of those techniques to train with," said Holsenbeck.

Holsenbeck will be working with the National Center for Simulation to try to convince the Department of Defense that moving the military's presence out of central Florida would be a devastating mistake.

"In no other place in the country does this all come together in such a unique and effective way as Orlando," said Holsenbeck.

The base realignment and closure process, which could decide the fate of the Naval Support Activity Base, is expected to happen in 2015.