VMA Showcase and History Exhibit Builds Awareness about Manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler Counties

Florida may be a popular destination for vacationers around the globe, but there is much, much more
to the sunshine state than those warm sandy beaches. Florida is emerging as a hotspot for manufacturers and is according to a report compiled by VMA Inc., the Volusia, Flagler and surrounding counties manufacturing alliance, the 12th largest manufacturing state and one of three largest net exporting states in America. Indeed, regional manufacturers associations, like the VMA, serve as a driving force in promoting manufacturing. VMA was founded in 1980 by local manufacturers and is considered a leader in providing information, education and networking opportunities to help manufacturers succeed and expand.
VMA’s programs are geared to promote growth and economic well-being of regional manufacturers.
A core part of VMA’s vision/mission lies in building a cohesive network of partnerships with local manufacturers. The VMA Manufacturers Showcase, for example, is one of its many industry-centric initiatives streamlined to promote and/or build awareness about high-tech manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. The Showcase was held at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University on October 2, 2014. 

Turnout for the Showcase was phenomenal. According to Fifer, approximately 95 exhibitors participated at the VMA manufacturing alliance’s eighth annual 
manufacturers showcase this year, and drew 1,500 people, the largest turnout ever. “Manufacturing is thriving in Florida with average annual wage of $52,000 (up from $48,000 last year) for manufacturing jobs in Volusia County” said Jayne Fifer, VMA president & CEO. This year’s manufacturers’ showcase included a job fair with 26 local employers who were looking to fill more than 300 high skilled positions such as engineering, software designers and production workers. The manufacturers showcase also featured displays by manufacturers throughout Volusia and Flagler counties, a robotics competition that involved six area high school teams and an art show of exhibiting products/artifacts that were created using precision machining tools.

In addition to the Showcase, the VMA developed a Manufacturing History Exhibit for the Halifax Historical Society that chronicled the growth of manufacturing sector in Volusia County, from the 1700s to present. “We want to show the world what manufacturing has contributed to the community over the years” said Fifer who notes Volusia County is home to diverse manufacturers who make anything ranging from sun tan lotions, to boats, medical devices, parachutes and even virtual-reality simulators. The Manufacturing History Exhibit, which ran from July to November,  was the brainchild of Holmes Davis, a historical society board member and former manufacturing industry employee who began his career in manufacturing in the 1950s. Davis, came up with the idea for the project and called upon VMA to help.

The Manufacturers Showcase and History Display were part of VMA’s “We Make it Here!” campaign to raise public awareness about manufacturing in Volusia and Flagler counties. “It’s important for people to know their history and what they should be proud of” said Fifer. For information on VMA and/or manufacturing related initiatives in Volusia County, contact Jayne Fifer at 386.673.0505/jayne.fifer@vmaonline.com. For information on FLATE’s portfolio of statewide manufacturing curriculum, training, professional development tools/resources, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, executive director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or visit www.madeinflorida.org and www.fl-ate.org.

VMA 8th Manufacturers Showcase Video (Source: http://vmaonline.com/) 

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