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High-tech center BRIDG may get $30 million from defense spending bill

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Kissimmee, October 3, 2018 | comments
Osceola News-Gazette - Kissimmee’s high-tech BRIDG center could receive $30 million from the federal government as part of a massive defense-spending bill signed into law by President Donald Trump Friday.  

According to a release, BRIDG - a nonprofit public-private partnership in Osceola County - would use any funding it receives to establish a cybersecurity center and develop microelectronic devices to support the U.S. Department of Defense.  

Microelectronics are used in many defense technologies including GPS, radar and other communication devices.  

The BRIDG facility was awarded security clearance last month, making it possible for the center to work with special federal defense contracts.

The $30 million appropriation received bi-partisan support in the Senate from Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and in the House by Central Florida Democrats Rep. Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy.

Soto represents the BRIDG facility - located on U.S. Highway 192 just west of Florida’s Turnpike - and Murphy represents the University of Central Florida, a key player in the BRIDG partnership.

In September, Soto and Murphy sent a letter to the Appropriations Conference Committee asking that the $30 million intended for BRIDG rem ain in the final bill.

“Central Florida is home to a thriving high-tech ecosystem, and we’re pleased the defense spending bill significantly increases resources to manufacture advanced technologies,” Soto and Murphy said in a joint-statement Sept. 26.

Since it opened in April 2017, BRIDG officials have aimed to position the facility as a leading research and manufacturing center for sensor-based technologies.

But Gloria LeQuang, director of marketing and community relations with BRIDG, said that although the defense bill was passed, the $30 million still wasn’t definite just yet.

“That money is intended for BRIDG, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to come to us,” she said. “The DoD (Department of Defense) ultimately makes that decision, so it’s up to them now.”

Regardless of what happens, LeQuang said it was nice to see Florida legislatures lobbying in favor of funding for BRIDG.

LeQuang said BRIDG won’t know immediately whether it will receive the money or not, but should know either way by the spring of 2019.

The defense-funding bill was approved by the Senate two weeks ago and by the House on Sept. 26. President Donald Trump signed the $670 billion defense spending measure into law Friday.
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