The First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) partnered with the Jacksonville Business Journal to conduct a panel discussion breakfast in order to engage the city’s business community in talks about issues facing the manufacturing industry.
Approximately 150 business people attended the breakfast to hear a panel of industry leaders that included FCMA President and State Representative Lake Ray; Tim Giles, Director of the Division of Continuing Education at the University of North Florida (UNF); attorney Rich Maguire of Rogers Towers; Mike Del Rocco, Regional Vice President with TD Bank; and Brian Tuttle, Vice President with manufacturer Rulon International.
The forum provided the manufacturers with a vehicle in which major issues could be vetted in detail. The issues ranged from the impact of manufacturing on the local and state economy to the prime obstacles regarding growth and expansion of manufacturing companies.
UNF’s Giles expressed concern about being able to supply the skill levels needed for manufacturing as employees are facing retirement. He believes that not enough students in high school and college today are taking the math, science, engineering and technological curriculums needed to prepare them to replace the aging workforce.
Attorney Maguire outlined the problems currently facing the industry regarding the extensive permitting process, both on the local level and with state government. He advocated a “one list” permitting sheet to assist manufacturers through the process and to also hopefully shorten it.
Del Rocco with TD Bank expressed his bank’s effort to provide easier lending terms to manufacturing firms for capital improvement. He said financial institutions are more open to making loans involving collateral equipment that, in turn, helps generate revenue to pay for itself.
Manufacturer Tuttle outlined how North Florida companies have a greater opportunity to do business around the world, especially with our port facilities. He said that not only does this help increase manufacturing jobs, but it also generates indirect support jobs, such as logistics, raw materials suppliers and utility services.
Lake Ray, who also served as the moderator of the panel, listed some of the pending state legislation designed to help area businesses like manufacturing. He also pointed out information that demonstrates the value of the industry in Jacksonville and throughout the state.
Partnering with the Business Journal on the breakfast event gave the manufacturers a unique opportunity to bring their major concerns to the Jacksonville business community in a way that allowed for an extensive discussion by experts and feedback from the business audience. It was a format that provided manufacturers a time and a place to tell their whole story to their targeted audience. It was a format that accomplished much more than what 60-second television commercial or even full-page newspaper ad could do.
The photo shows Lake Ray and Tim Giles with the other panelists at the breakfast.