The Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) awarded Governor Rick Scott, Senator Dorothy Hukill, and Representative MaryLynn Magar with the Manufacturing Legislative Excellence Awards following the Annual Manufacturing Summit on November 17, 2016. The award is given to state leaders and legislators who consistently support MAF’s mission of improving the business climate for Florida manufacturers.
Governor Scott announced his $1 billion tax package for the 2016 session at MAF’s Annual Summit in 2015. The plan included the permanent elimination of the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment. With both Senator Hukill and Representative Magar filing bills on the manufacturing sales tax exemption, they each became champions for the industry. The successful passage of the tax exemption is expected to save the industry $77 million per year. It is already allowing Florida businesses the opportunity to expand, create new positions of employment, enter new markets and invest in capital equipment.
“Florida’s leadership has taken tremendous strides to ensure our state’s businesses remain competitive in one of the highest producing states for manufacturing,” said Amanda Bowen, Executive Director. “Governor Scott, Senator Hukill, and Representative Magar were fearless advocates for the industry throughout the 2016 legislative session. Thanks to their courageous leadership, manufacturers across the state will see job creation and revenue growth in the coming years.”
MAF’s lobbying team and Executive Director presented Rep. MaryLynn Magar with her award for Legislator of the Year in her Tallahassee office prior to the 2017 legislative session. (Pictured Left)
The industry presently employs nearly 360,000 Floridians and has added more than 10,000 jobs over the year. “The industry’s business owners and employees are Floridians dedicated to advancing the state’s economy and business stature,” said Bowen. “When we witness three manufacturing champions come together and fight for our citizens and industry, such as we did this past session, it drives home the message of economic strength and a future of sustainability.”
One of the most celebrated traditions in MAF is the annual recognition of Florida’s best manufacturing companies. Each fall, MAF hosts an Annual Summit & Marketplace, a gathering for industry CEOs, representatives, and affiliates to learn, network, and collaborate with peers. The highlight of this event comes during the President’s Dinner when MAF leadership announces the Manufacturer of the Year award winners. Any competitor will tell you, the process is vigorous! A panel of judges completes multiple interviews, on-site visits, and extensive reviews of all nominated companies. Only the most superior entries rise up to be recognized as the best in the state. The prestigious awards signify exceptional leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, workforce focus, and process management. For further distinction, MAF awarded those finalists who also hold membership in the association with the 2016 Seal of Excellence. The Seal sets those finalists apart with an additional honor in recognition of their advances and leadership in the industry. Sure, Florida has many prized attractions and natural landmarks, but the manufacturers are exceptional and MAF is not afraid to brag!
Though many of the association’s activities take place in the capital city, partnerships with various organizations and educational institutions are tackling the perplexing skills gap. It is estimated that by 2020, as many as 2 million manufacturing jobs nationwide will be unfilled due to inadequately trained workers.
State colleges across Florida have begun implementing advanced manufacturing training programs, focusing on industry certifications that will allow students to enter the workforce not only in a timelier manner, but with the skills needed to fill those positions and move the industry forward. For those currently employed in manufacturing, MAF has identified numerous educational resources and opportunities to further enhance or develop current skill sets.
It is not just the adult crowd benefiting from education and training. As part of the Dream It. Do It. network, MAF has also taken a firm stance on K-12 engagement. As many association members will tell you, manufacturing does not have a perception problem; it has an awareness problem. Educators, guidance counselors, and students are simply unaware of the tremendous career opportunities available in manufacturing.
Under the Dream It. Do It. banner, MAF has challenged the industry to get more involved with their communities. By hosting open houses, plant tours, student speaking engagements, and Q&A’s with parent teacher organizations, we have been able to reach a much wider audience of young people. With an increasing percentage of baby boomers retiring every year, many manufacturers are looking for ways to ensure young professionals will be available to fill those roles.
In 2016, MAF hosted the first annual DIDI500, a statewide robotics build for middle and high school students of all varying skill levels. Student teams were partnered with local manufacturers who served as their mentors throughout the competition and were asked to design, build and race a bot that met two key criteria: reclaimed materials and clean energy. “With sustainability and renewable energy such big issues in our state, it is important that we stress these ideas when engaging with our students,” said Bowen. “The designs, concepts and models produced by these teams exceeded our expectations and sent a clear message that today’s youth has some great ideas that will carry this industry into the future.” More than 100 students competed with video entries and were evaluated not only by MAF’s leadership team, but by manufacturing CEOs and executives. Winning teams received cash prizes directly to their educational program which are currently being used to fund new studies in manufacturing and technology.