Manufacturing Day/Month: A Blockbuster Success in Florida

Every October manufacturers in Florida brace for Manufacturing Day/Month—one of the
defining events of the year highlighting American innovation in manufacturing. 2015 was once again a blockbuster year for Florida, as FLATE, the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence in manufacturing, and its network of statewide partners (Regional Manufacturers Associations (RMAs), Florida TRADE, manufacturers, schools districts, and the community at large) worked cohesively to devise a strategy that has consistently placed Florida as one of the national leaders in hosting industry tours and events for Manufacturing Day/Month. FLATE’s involvement in MFG Day/Month encapsulates a broader perspective as it corresponds to a report published by the Manufacturing Institute that stipulates (among other factors) manufacturing has “the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector,” in that “for every $1 spent in manufacturing another $1.37 is added to the economy.” Indeed, the rationale for building support and momentum for Manufacturing Day/Month are many as the Return(s) on Investment are multi-fold.

Statistical Analysis
In looking at preliminary numbers on a statewide level across Florida, 2015 witnessed record participation. As of October 31, 2015 there were a total of 57 Manufacturing Day/Month (MFG Day/Month) events in Florida. Middle and high school students, parents and teachers from 50 counties in Florida participated in 150 industry tours to 150 high-tech industries across Florida. In Florida, 50 counties issued 54 proclamations acknowledging October 2 as the official kick off to MFG Day, and/or October as MFG Month.

Following up on the successful model that FLATE spearheaded and established over the years

for Florida, FLATE surveyed statewide industry hosts, educators and students participating in the Made in Florida (MIF) industry tours for 2015 MFG Day/Month. Of the 1,046 student surveys received so far, there was a 77% increase in consideration of a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour. Nearly 96% percent of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. Ninety six percent stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity of this tour. Out of the 1046 surveys received and tabulated so far, 97% said that this tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing.

In addition to students, participating industry hosts also deemed the MIF Industry tours valuable. Out of the 33 industry tour hosts that responded to FLATE’s survey, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “We feel that any investment in the future workforce is an excellent use of company time, and we look forward to forging a symbiotic relationship with our local school” said one of the tour hosts in the post event survey. When asked how the tour served as a good use of company time and resources one of the industry hosts stated the tour is an “Investment into the future of technical education programs as well as teaching the next generation the value of American manufacturing.” Furthermore, in taking a closer look at post event survey data and demographic break-up, there was approximately 130.7% change in girls considering a career in advanced manufacturing after the tour compared to 64.01% boys.

In addition to the Made in Florida industry tours for Manufacturing Day, FLATE developed an 

extensive array of resources/lesson plans, a 2015 MFG Day poster for educators that can be downloaded on FLATE’s Wiki. Following the tour, FLATE also surveyed educators and parents to gauge their response to the tours and the curriculum. Of the surveys received by FLATE to date, 100% of educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. The same percentage (100%) also stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity of a Made in Florida industry tour, and 100% agreeing to promote a career in advanced manufacturing for students. “Our students (boys and girls) have been studying manufacturing and this tour help make a real word connection to their future educational goals” stated one of the educators in the post-event survey. 

There were several layers of logistical, tactical and strategic planning involved in rallying support/engagement on a statewide level for an event of this magnitude. As in previous years, FLATE also designed/distributed T-shirts that were distributed and/or mailed to industry hosts across the state. Thirty six manufacturers pledged support for T-shirts so students could wear them during the tour.

Role of Regional Partners for MFG Day/Month
Taking a cue from their experience last year, RMAs, regional Florida TRADE groups with affiliated colleges and universities, and school districts once again took a prominent role in hosting tours and/or adopting schools, arranging for lunches for students, and sponsoring official manufacturing day T-shirts. They also worked with local government agencies to secure official manufacturing day/month county proclamations across Florida.

RMAs that partnered with FLATE included Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Capital 

Region Manufacturers Association, First Coast Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Manufacturers Association of Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association (formerly known as Marion Regional Manufacturers Association), Northwest Florida Manufacturers Association, Polk Manufacturers Association at Polk State College, Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association, South Florida Manufacturers Association, Southwest Florida Manufacturers Association, and Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association. Local TRADE group partners included: Florida TRADE at Florida State College at Jacksonville and Florida TRADE at Pasco Hernando State College. Educational/other manufacturing organizations included: Florida Gateway College, Palm Beach State College, Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic Technical College. Additionally school districts across Florida formed strategic alliance with FLATE and its network of partners to coordinate tours and arrange transportations for students, chaperones and educators to industry sites. These included School District of Hillsborough County, Pinellas School District, Marion County School District, Sarasota County School District and Career & Technical Education programs, and Miami-Dade School district. 

#FLMFGMonth15 and #MFGDay15 Social Buzz
FLATE’s social media platforms were ablaze with activity throughout Manufacturing Month.

FLATE worked with MAF and Florida TRADE to post constant stories, news and updates on each of its social media platforms, that included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. There were posts throughout the month highlighting different industry sectors (Medical, Food & Beverage, Electronics, Metals, Petroleum/Chemicals/Plastics etc). Prominent posts included a Retweet from Congressmen David Jolly, Rep. from the 13th District in Florida, who acknowledged FLATE’s role in MFG Day/Month in the United States Senate. United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzer also gave FLATE a big social kudos on twitter stating FLATE “raises awareness of manufacturing’s economic sector.” The national MFG Day organizers at the Manufacturing Institute also acknowledged FLATE on LinkedIn stating “FLATE is preparing the educated manufacturing workforce in FL” with a hastag “#DoingItRight.” In addition to social activities, there were also some good stories in statewide press. Check out the side bar of this edition of the newsletter to read all the press related stories and a photo album of statewide Made in Florida Industry tours and other tours and events from MFG Day/Month in Florida. 

October may have ended, but there are still MFG Day/Month events happening across Florida.

FLATE will compile additional/remaining surveys and tabulate results and report on the impact of remaining tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus. So stay tuned for additional updates and news. FLATE would also like to thank all its partners across the state and the FLATE staff who worked tirelessly to sustain the objectives and heighten the impact of MFG Day/Month across Florida. Truly this was a joint effort and the accolades are shared by all involved.

For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit www.mfgday-fl.com, or read about it in the October 2015 edition of the Department of Commerce Blog. Send us your MFG Day/Month stories, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida using the hashtag #FLMfgMonth15. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578 and Nina Stokes, FLATE project manager at stokes@fl-ate.org.