Space Florida Board authorizes $350k contract for new CEO

by | Sep 19, 2023

  • The Space Florida Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $350,000 contract for incoming CEO and President Robert Long, a retired U.S. Space Force Colonel.
  • The negotiated salary is a $25,000 increase over the salary of the outgoing CEO, Frank DiBello.
  • Long’s contract is set to take effect on October 2 and includes a $1,000 travel stipend and benefits.

    The Space Florida Board of Directors unanimously approved a $350,000 contract on Tuesday for its incoming CEO and President Robert Long, a retired U.S. Space Force Colonel.

    Long’s contract, a $25,000 increase over outgoing CEO Frank DiBello’s salary, takes effect on October 2 and provides a $1,000 travel stipend alongside benefits. Board members indicated during the meeting that the incoming CEO was prepared to sign the agreement this afternoon.

    “As we start this new era in Space Florida history, I’m really excited to work closely with Colonel Long as we aim to further promote growth within the aerospace industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Space Florida’s Chair. “And we have a lot of exciting work to accomplish. And I’m certain that the board and ready to support our new CEO, and our state Florida team as we prepare for the future.”

    During the last board meeting, Nuñez disclosed that the agency received 14 applicants during its nationwide candidate search, which was then whittled down to six individuals who were brought in for interviews. From there, three finalists were chosen: Air Force Maj. Gen. John Olson, former chief executive of Virginia Space Dale Nash, and Long.

    “[Long] was very enthusiastic and very passionate about the future of Space Florida,” said Nuñez upon her nomination of the former Space Force member.

    DiBello announced his retirement in March after leading the organization for 14 years. Under his leadership, Space Florida played a significant role in the growth of the state’s commercial space industry following the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

    With DiBello at the helm, Space Florida achieved a wide-ranging series of milestones and accomplishments including the development of Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Spaceport. DiBello was also instrumental in attracting new aerospace companies to Florida, such as Blue Origin and OneWeb, and has supported the growth of existing companies like Boeing and SpaceX.

    The agency has had a $5.9 billion impact on Florida’s economy since 2007, with projections of a $1.1 billion annual economic impact for the current Fiscal Year.

    According to Space Florida’s 2022 Annual Operations Report, Space Florida had 85 total projects in development as of July 1, 2022 with an estimated value of $2.4 billion in capital investment and provided $4.3 million in funding for 30 research projects, partnerships, and grants.


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