From the Executive Director's Desk

This summer, Governor Rick Scott asked the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) to submit a list of five important actions that the state could take to better support Florida manufacturers. For context, MAF’s response included the current status of manufacturing in Florida. Here is that current snapshot and the five item “wish list” MAF submitted (see www.mafmfg.com). We all look forward to seeing which of the list will be addressed in the months ahead.

• Florida is the 15th largest manufacturing state
• There are more than 302,000 high skilled direct manufacturing employees in Florida
• They work in 17,722 discrete manufacturing facilities
• Manufacturers pay 122% higher wages than other Florida employers and offer substantial benefits
• They pay over 5% of the real estate taxes and nearly 25% of the tangible personal property tax.
• The majority of research and development dollars are spent by manufacturers
• Manufacturers employ a large percentage of technical graduates from the state university system
• Florida manufacturers have open jobs that they cannot fill due to one of the following: a) lack of social skills; b) cannot pass the drug test, and c) are not qualified or certified with the appropriate skills for the jobs.
• Manufactured good make up 91% of all exports leaving Florida’s 14 ports.

The 5 action priorities for Florida Manufacturers are:

1. Designate a Manufacturing Advocate or Liaison
2. Improve the Tax Climate for Manufacturers in all business models
3. Continue to invest in Workforce Training
4. Increase Import and Export trade opportunities
5. Use Energy Policy as an Economic Development Strategy

For many of us, it’s important to realize that high skilled manufacturing jobs are still going unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates. The need to fill these high-tech, high-wage jobs with qualified candidates with education credentials is one of FLATE’s goals. However, our goal, and that of the National Science Foundation (NSF) with its investment in FLATE, is not only to help the current workforce needs, but also to develop and implement long-term strategies to build and maintain attractive, relevant, strong and flexible career pathways to support Florida’s manufacturers.

And, of course, it’s just about time for all of us to refocus on career pathways with school doors opening across the country. I hope everyone has had a relaxing summer. Our summer has been very busy and very rewarding. Here at FLATE, we hosted over 100 students in our summer robotic camps and supported five camps outside of Tampa Bay. We offered our first energy summer camp in conjunction with the NSF Energy Systems Technology (EST2) grant and the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC). We offered a number of faculty development opportunities for educators from attending conferences; summer energy camp, focused training in Solid Works, teacher externships, and curriculum writing. FLATE also took a small cohort of college faculty to the Basque Country in Spain to learn firsthand about their technical education system.

Our August issue of the FLATE Focus brings a story about our regional Bay Area Manufacturer’s Association (BAMA) Manufacturing Scholarships winners, the Teacher Quest program’s summer externship program, and the newest addition to our summer robotics camp offerings. I also urge you to take advantage of this last month to submit your nominations for the 2011 FLATE awards. All nominations are due by September 1. The process is simple and the nomination form can be accessed on FLATE’s home page at www.fl-ate.org. With limited funds in everyone’s budget this year, FLATE Awards are a great way to recognize and celebrate excellence in manufacturing education.