Manufacturing the Backbone of Florida’s Future

Amanda Bowen, Manufacturers Association of Florida

Every day across the Sunshine State, voices from the manufacturing industry get louder and more prevalent. The Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) identifies the most dominating needs of Florida’s industry leaders and acts as a champion for those manufacturers. Those 19,000 voices come together as one to influence political change, bring about more training opportunities, connect with foreign markets, and expose younger generations to new and exciting career opportunities. MAF not only fights on behalf of our manufacturers, we celebrate their victories too!

As part of the Dream It Do It network, the association has also taken a firm stance on K-12 engagement. As many of our members will tell you, manufacturing does not have a perception problem; it has an awareness problem. Educators, guidance counselors, and students are simply unaware of the career opportunities available in manufacturing. Though many of the association’s activities take place in the capital city, partnerships with various organizations and educational institutions are tackling the impending skills gap. It is estimated that by 2020, as many as 14 million jobs nationwide will be unfilled due to inadequately trained workers. Ensuring our businesses have access to exceptional employees is vital to the success of the industry and Florida’s economy.

Every year in October, we join forces with our partners and industry members to celebrate all things manufacturing. Each day is spent reaching out to our communities, explaining what manufacturing is, and introducing a world of new opportunities to Florida’s teens. From class field trips and tours at manufacturing facilities to city-wide charters for educators and guidance counselors…Florida has been the nation’s leader in engagement events to celebrate Manufacturing Month for the past three years! To learn more about Florida’s manufacturing industry and for a full list of registered events throughout the month of October, visit

Manufacturing Contributes More than $40 Billion to Florida’s Economy

Manufacturing is a key driver in Florida’s economic recovery, creating exports for domestic and international trade and generating high-wage, high-skill jobs that diversify and strengthen the state economy. For every 10 jobs created in manufacturing, 12 more are created in transportation, warehousing and retail and 8 jobs in business services, resulting in a $41.5 billion economic impact to the state GDP.

The demand for manufacturing jobs will continue to rise, with a recent Deloitte study indicating that 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed by 2025. However, our students must develop the skills to fill those jobs or they will likely go unfilled. As Florida Chamber Foundation research shows, STEM education and technical training is vital to bridging this skills gap and enabling Florida’s future workforce to compete in a global economy.

Get Involved

October is Manufacturing Month and the perfect time to support Florida’s 18,200 manufacturers. Click here for a short message on manufacturing from Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber, and learn how you can join us in supporting our partners at the Manufacturers Association of Florida.

Business VIPs Address Chamber

By Deborah Buckhalter, Jackson County Floridian

Stan Connally dropped a news bomb near the end of his talk Friday at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce power lunch — the Gulf Power president announced plans to help create six training academies in the Panhandle to teach skills needed for work in the manufacturing sector.

Connally is helping steer a Panhandle alliance which aims to make the region more competitive in attracting worldwide manufacturing concerns to set up shop here and put people to work. That’s been known for some time. The alliance wants to help set up the training academies between here and Pensacola over time.

Gulf Power is also a driving force behind a related effort—the certification of 11 Panhandle sites as essentially shovel-ready for development. Three of those are in Jackson County, and include land near the Family Dollar Distribution Center, another near the State Road 71 interstate ramp, and a third site near the Marianna Municipal Airport. Working with a world-recognized consultant to get those certified can make those sites more marketable too potential manufacturing concerns as essentially shovel-ready for start up. With most permitting issues, environmental studies and other preliminary having already been taken care of in the certification process, the sites could be more attractive to companies looking for a place to get up and running quickly.

Attracting manufacturers is a key element in the critical need to diversify the local economy, he said.

He estimated that 15,000 manufacturing jobs will be available in the state over the next five years, while tourism might generate 63,000 in the same time period. Manufacturing jobs can command salaries of $60,000 on average, while in tourism the average is around $20,000. While tourism is important and ultimately might generate more jobs in the state over the next five years, it’s seasonal and very dependent on the economy from year to year. In the manufacturing sector, the establishment of one business can generate other start-ups that bring other jobs, as well, he pointed out.

Connally wasn’t alone in bringing that diversity message to the Chamber guests Friday. He had a fellow guest speaker. Taking the podium ahead of him was David Christian, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Christian also talked about the importance of expanding the scope of local economies, but focused on an overview of his organization’s lobbying efforts in support of legislative actions that can help small, medium and large business concerns thrive in the Florida sunshine. He talked also about the importance of embracing educational curriculum policies that help students, from pre-K forward, prepare to manage their personal finances, gain marketable workplace skills in the fields of science, technology and other areas that prepare them to take high-paying jobs perhaps right out of high school.

Both men spoke of the importance of people working together within their communities and across county borders to make this region more attractive to job-producing businesses.