Osceola County’s decade-long mission to transform its economic landscape from primarily tourism and agriculture to high tech innovation had a big year in 2023, and according to what was shared during a news conference held in NeoCity’s OC building on Wednesday, 2024 looks to be an even more monumental year for the county and it’s 500-acre technology campus.

The press conference was led by Osceola County Manager Don Fisher, and featured SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman, Dr. Donna Joyce from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center representing the Department of Defense, Laura DiBella, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida’s CEO, and Dr. John Allgair, Interim President at BRIDG.

“During COVID, we had an unemployment rate of 30%, third highest in the United States, so this is a way for our youths to have jobs in various sectors that are more resilient to fluctuations in our economy,” Osceola County Manager Don Fisher shared during the opening moments of the press conference.

In November, the county announced that they would receive a five-year Cornerstone Award contract from the U.S. Department of Defense, which brought an initial allocation of $3.65 million and a potential total award of $289 million, positioning the county as a key player in producing next-generation microchips for the U.S. military.

“The re-establishment of the semiconductor advanced packaging manufacturing capability here onshore is critical to the department’s weapon system development. This award is part of the DoD’s reshore ecosystem for secure heterogeneous advanced package electronics, or ‘RESHAPE” Dr. Donna Joyce representing the DoD said at NeoCity.

Key partners in this venture include BRIDG and SkyWater Technology, both instrumental in NeoCity’s development as a global hub for investment, research, and manufacturing in the semiconductor industry. The award will not only enhance semiconductor advanced packaging manufacturing but the county says it will also create significant employment opportunities in and around Osceola County.

The collaboration between Osceola County and Skywater is crucial in realizing our shared vision of developing cutting edge technology within the borders of our great nation,” SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman said.

“I just want to say, this project is a perfect example of how public and private partnerships can work to accelerate development of important technologies here in the U.S. for the benefit of both government and commercial customers,” U.S. Congressman Darren Soto shared from Zoom during the news conference.

The Cornerstone Award follows last year’s receipt of a $50.8 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge Grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.  Additionally, Osceola County’s coalition is a finalist for the National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines grant, further highlighting the county’s commitment to advancing the semiconductor industry. County Manager Fisher says he expects to see a response from the National Science Foundation within the next 60 days.

Under the contract, Osceola County will collaborate with BRIDG and SkyWater in implementing the award, focusing on chip design, processes, and domestic advanced packaging services – essential components for the advanced packaging of microchips.

These successes continue to establish the infrastructure for Osceola County and the Center for Neovation to grow its leadership position in semiconductor microchip packaging and integration — providing for enhanced functionality and improved operating characteristics.