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Technology's Role In Central Florida's Economy: A Conversation With Paul Sohl

Paul Sohl, Florida High Tech Corridor Council CEO. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Paul Sohl, Florida High Tech Corridor Council CEO. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Paul Sohl got the job of CEO of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council just a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The council, which is an economic development arm of the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, aims to grow the tech industry across Central Florida. 

Sohl tells Intersection that tech has a role to play in diversifying Central Florida's economy and helping us get out of the pandemic. He says there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic, not just about how the health care system responded.

"I think we have to go beyond vaccines. And we can look at other systems that we we have to make more resilient. And that's one of the big lessons that I've learned, taking advantage of the understanding and the learning to then re vector where we need to focus."

Sohl, who is a retired rear admiral of the US Navy and a former navy test pilot, takes a keen interest in the booming commercial space industry.

'Space exploration is so important as well, because it not only drives technology, I think it drives dreams. I think it drives creativity," says Sohl.

"That's maybe another sort of 'aha' moment here that I had to redefine what technology is in my mind. I used to think, you know, well, technology it's all the nanotech and it's the artificial intelligence and then I realized that at the end of the day, it's really about creativity and being able to harness that creativity."

To that end, Sohl says the High Tech Corridor Council is working to support STEM education at the K-12 level, and with underserved communities.

"I believe that technology and what we do at the corridor can be a part of lifting up everybody," says Sohl.