Local leaders in Central Florida are hoping to purchase at least two more buildings in Orlando as part of an effort to retain the area’s defense simulation cluster in the event of a new BRAC round.

The state so far has approved $42 million to start moving 3,000 defense workers involved in simulation, training and gaming from 200,000 square feet of leased space adjacent to Naval Support Activity Orlando. In February, the state purchased an 84,000-square-foot building near the Central Florida Research Park.

“We will make it happen,” said Thomas Baptiste, chairman of the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force. “It’s just a matter of how long is it going to take. The writing is on the wall here for the community. The engine that drives our industry here is the military presence at the research park,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.

The state is in “early discussions” about potential buildings it could purchase. “We don’t necessarily have a clear path ahead, but it has to get done,” Baptiste said.

Moving the military and civilian personnel, who primarily oversee contracts, to state-owned buildings at the University of Central Florida is intended to save DOD from paying to lease commercial office space at the research park.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, applauded the initiative for trying to anticipate what issues DOD will focus on during the next round of base closures.

“Where communities often have problems is areas where they didn’t get their act together,” Cancian said. “Having this group form, there is a very good hedge … against the closings, in case there is a BRAC.”

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