Florida’s state government-chartered space industry development company is talking about tying executive salary bonuses to a longterm goal of Space Florida becoming the “global leader in space commerce.”

That includes a subgoal of tripling the amount of space industry in Florida in ten years.

The Space Florida executive staff outlined goals for the organization’s board of directors Monday that could be used to measure whether its executives qualify for annual salary bonuses. The proposal would tie performance bonuses – as high as 50 percent of annual salary in the case of President Frank DiBello – to annual progress toward making Space Florida and its Cape Canaveral facilities The world-recognized go-to place for private space business.

The performance bonuses policies, creating a sliding scale of 5 percent to 50 percent of annual salary depending on Space Florida employees’ ranks, already were adopted in broad form by the board last August. The latest move would start defining how the board and top staff would measure high-performance in considering offering the bonuses.

At its next board meeting, May 10, Space Florida will consider adopting the corporate goal guidelines to measure employees’ performance. At future meetings the board would create the departmental and individual goals guidelines. The bonus policy, with its corporate goals, would go into effect for the next fiscal year, starting July 1. In the case of DiBello, a high performance could mean a $133,000 bonus at his current salary, and a $180,000 bonus if he or some future Space Florida president achieves the top of the salary scale, under the current policies.

“We have to pay this to be competitive,” said Space Florida Executive Vice President Howard Haug.

“For future leadership teams, we are competing with the banking and finance industry for talent,” DiBello added.

That is toward an end goal of Space Florida establishing itself, in ten years, as the unquestioned global leader for space commerce. To do that, Haug, DiBello and board members hashed out four corporate goals:

  • Capture at least one recognized star of the future in space/aerospace commerce to have a physical presence in Florida. And the state’s return on investment must be better than two dollars of tax revenue for every dollar of state incentives.
  • Capture at least one recognized space/aerospace manufacturing star to have a physical presence in Florida.
  • Space Florida would foster a doubling of federal space research grant money being awarded in Florida universities and research institutions. (Haug and DiBello later expressed that this might be a low goal since Florida historically has received very little federal space research grant money, and DiBello said an eight-fold or ten-fold increase from current levels might be possible.)
  • Establish an effort with the Department of Transportation to brand Florida as The destination for space commerce.

“We want to achieve a tripling of the size of the industry in Florida. You measure that through revenue, through a number of companies,” DiBello said. “We want to be the site of choice for aerospace and space manufacturing operations. And we want to be the site of choice for space flight operations and space commerce. The goal is to grow the spaceport complex as a center of commerce.”

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