Mori Hosseini makes the case for Embry-Riddle & Volusia County's future

Start-up business planned for Embry-Riddle business park / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer video / Mori Hosseini - ever the businessman - makes passionate pitch to Volusia County for public-private venture with Enbry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with up-front monies now with return on investment down the line with the prospect of higher paying jobs. Hosseini gets unanimous support. Above, labs for research would be expanded, and at left, start-up enterprises would be welcomed with start-up funds with the mandate up freont that they stay in Volusia County. 

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Having already secured seven partnerships for its planned research park, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University administrators appeared Thursday in front of the Volusia County Council asking for $1.5 million and to purchase county-owned land for half its value adjacent to the Daytona Beach campus.

And they brought a businessman to make the pitch. Not just any every-day businessman, mind you, but one of the most powerful and passionate, who happens to be the chairman of the board for ERAU -- Mori Hosseini of ICI Homes.

 And Hosseini delivered a promise on their behalf: $1.8 billion value in economic development and creation of jobs with salaries as high as $100,000, as the return on their investment down the line. 

Hosseini said Volusia County was there for Embry-Riddle in moving from Ohio to Daytona Beach 50 years ago and now the county could help the university position itself for the future, beginning now.

"We are going to the next level," Hosseini said.

The $1.5 million would assist companies using the research park who need additional startup funds.

Rodney Cruise, ERAU's vice president for administration and planning, said the prerequisite for dispensing of the funds is that the businesses must stay and grow their enterprises here in Volusia County.

In addition to the $1.5 million requested from the county, Hosseini and Interim President Karen Holbrook asked to purchase county-owned land at the southeast corner of the intersection of Clyde Morris Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue that is adjacent to the campus. The land is valued at $800,000, but they want to purchase it for half that amount, considering the land is of little value otherwise to the county, which has used it to perform oil changes on vehicles, etc..

Embry-Riddle's vision for a research park started 11 years ago when it purchased land it purchased land, and having invested $2 million toward the project, Hosseini partnering up with the county could "foster the commercialization of new technologies and bring as many as 1,500 high-paying jobs to the area."

Here's a synopsis of what's in play: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex will bring together venture capitalists, scientists, students, faculty and engineers for research and development projects. The Mica complex — poised to anchor the west side of ERAU's 17-acre, roughly $32 million research park will include multiple high-tech labs allowing researchers to study everything from thermal energy to robotics.

With $4 million pledged for economic development, in the county's tentative budget of $849 million,  the $400,000 from the land sale would go into that fund, while the $1.5 million asked for would come out.

County Council members were unanimous in support of the plan. "We need to make sure we embrace Embry-Riddle," at-large Councilwoman Joyce Cusack said. "This is a part of a journey we must take to ensure our children's dreams become a reality." Councilwoman Deb Denys applauded it as "visionary," making clear for emphasis, "I'm tired of supporting minimum wage jobs. This is exactly what we should be supporting."

County Council members were unanimous in support of the plan: "We need to make sure we embrace Embry-Riddle," said at-large Councilwoman Joyce Cusack, shown far left. "This is a part of a journey we must take to ensure our children's dreams become a reality." 

Councilwoman Deb Denys, shown here right of colleague Joyce Cusack, applauded it as "visionary," making clear for emphasis, "I'm tired of supporting minimum wage jobs. This is exactly what we should be supporting."

The county will formally vote on the request at an upcoming meeting.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards.

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