Steven Botwinik, Director of Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin, has perhaps one of the most “only in Orlando” moments of our Profiles in Tech series and details the importance of the sense of community across the region.

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This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Steven Botwinik, Director of Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin. He describes one of the most “only in Orlando” moments we’ve come across and discusses the importance of community across the region.

Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it? 

My family and I were enjoying a day at Epcot and were waiting for the evening fireworks show when a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched. It was a perfectly cloudless evening, and it lit up the sky just about five minutes before the fireworks show started. That is about as “only in Orlando” as I can imagine. 

What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here? 

I was born and raised in Florida and upon graduation from UF, had opportunities to work for aerospace companies in either West Palm Beach or Orlando. Orlando and Lockheed Martin offered a more appealing lifestyle, so we decided to move here. Since then, my wife and I have raised a family and become a part of the Central Florida community through volunteering, taking part in the arts and culture scene, and becoming active members of our synagogue. 

It’s what we experience every day here in Orlando – friends, family, work, and community – that keeps us here.

What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?

Lockheed Martin and its heritage companies have been a part of the Central Florida community since before Disney even started looking for land here. Since then, Lockheed Martin has expanded its presence to multiple sites in Orlando, and has established long standing partnerships with UCF and UF that allow the company to maintain a strong pipeline of local talent. It has provided an anchor for my family and thousands of others who came to Orlando and have stayed for decades.

What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique? 

The Orlando tech ecosystem is a unique combination of arts and entertainment technology, defense and aerospace technology, optics and photonics, training and simulation and medical technologies all mixed together.  When combined with the strengths of the nearby universities, what exists here in Orlando really can’t be found anywhere else.

What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?

Well, hills to start. But barring a major tectonic event, that may difficult to realize any time soon. 

Joking aside, this is a hard question since Orlando has so much to offer, especially when you think about the tech ecosystem. I wish the broader Orlando community had a better appreciation of how much is here. Orlando is world renowned for its theme parks and hospitality, but even Orlando locals don’t often recognize the region as a talented center for emerging technologies in many different sectors. The more we can educate our own community on what we have, the more we can capitalize on it and grow our tech ecosystem in Orlando.

Certainly it’s easier than making hills.

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?

I would say simply: there’s a reason why millions of people choose to spend their vacation time in Orlando. It’s a beautiful city with lots of hidden gems that still retains a “small neighborhood” feel to it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked through downtown, or Winter Park, or even Orlando International Airport and run into someone I know – it’s a great “hometown” feeling.  I also love that it’s an exceptionally accepting and diverse community. People really take pride in our city and it shows. 

The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.

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