FCMA: A Respected Voice in Strengthening Manufacturing in Northeast Florida

First Coast Manufacturers Association is a non-profit trade association serving as the voice for manufacturers located in the Northeast Florida counties of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns. The Association’s multi-faceted programs are designed to assist members in the successful operations of their business, help educate policymakers and the public about the value of manufacturing, and its significance to the local economy. FCMA also works with its member organizations, government agencies and the community to protect the environment.             

Established in 1989, the Association today represents all types of manufacturing, from small machine shops to top selling consumer goods to international high-tech medical products.  As an effective leader and “voice for local manufacturing” FCMA continues to grow, and is currently comprised of over 300 companies. Some of its larger, more recognizable members include: Anheuser-Busch InBev, BAE Systems (Shipyards and Safariland), CSX Transportation, Maxwell House-Kraft, RockTenn Corrugated, Swisher, Owens Corning, Gerdau, Colomer USA, and our largest industrial employer, the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast.  
            
Its industry-centric focus is defined by the line-up of services it provides, and its mission to keep members abreast with latest tools and technologies. FCMA hosts several workshops and networking opportunities throughout the year, and has established SIGs (Special Interest Groups)so members can share their expertise and knowledge. SIG members interact monthly and are able to offer solutions to similar problems, or share resources of reliable service providers with proven performance. Currently the association has two SIGs, one for plant managers and one for maintenance and reliability. FCMA is also in the process of developing additional SIGs that have similar issues and concerns.
            
In an effort to keep members aware of each other’s production and support service needs, and to provide an opportunity for sharing best practices FCMA also conducts many plant tours. Sherri Mitchell, director of finance and education says the idea is to “keep our manufacturers updated on issues affecting manufacturing.” Partnership with local schools also play a vital role in developing relevant educational and training materials to meet the needs of local manufacturers, and in training the next generation of high skilled workers. FCMA regularly interacts with local schools and colleges, and encourages its members to develop partnerships with neighborhood schools. The Association has taken great strides to ensure manufacturing is a visible topic for discussion on the different advisory boards from the University of North Florida, to Florida State College at Jacksonville, to career academies, and local workforce boards.
            
In keeping with this goal to sustain and promote manufacturing throughout the region, FCMA is cultivating strategic partnerships with Center’s like FLATE to convey a consistent and cohesive message about the importance of manufacturing and its impact on Florida’s economy. “We all need to work together throughout the entire state to ensure the same message regarding manufacturing is getting out from all regions” said Mitchell. To get the ball rolling, FLATE and FCMA are currently working on compiling a handout highlighting local manufacturers, career opportunities and educational pathways available in the region. Once completed, the handout will be used to supplement FCMA’s efforts to build manufacturing awareness, and to showcase its impact around the state.
            
For more information on FCMA contact Sherri Mitchell at Sherri@FCMAweb.com, or visit www.fcmaweb.com. For information on FLATE, and its involvement/outreach initiatives with local regional manufacturers associations contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.fl-ate.org.