Hillsborough County leaders gathered today at Tampa Bay Tech High School to celebrate the launch of the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County.  The Alliance is the next phase in the county-wide initiative to increase awareness of career opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

Hillsborough County, Florida Image/David Benbennick
Hillsborough County, Florida
Image/David Benbennick

The goal of the Alliance is to raise the profile of the Hillsborough County manufacturing sector, and prepare students and adults for careers in manufacturing to increase the number of eligible candidates available for unfilled jobs.   This includes job training opportunities, college and high school manufacturing programs and summer camps.

The Alliance is led by the Hillsborough County Government, Hillsborough Community College, Hillsborough County Public Schools and CareerSource Tampa Bay. In addition, manufacturing employers and associations are involved in the initiative.

“The Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County is a model for how industry, education, and government can come together to grow job opportunities,” said the Hon. Lesley “Les” Miller, Jr., Chair of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.

“By leveraging all of our resources we are creating a pipeline of skilled talent to support the more than 1,000 local manufacturers and attract new businesses to Hillsborough County. The partnership’s emphasis on supporting sustainable high-wage career pathways for our residents, especially minorities, women and veterans, will increase economic prosperity for our entire community.”

Commissioner Miller presented at today’s launch event along with April Griffin, Chair of the Hillsborough County School Board; Jeff Eakins, Superintendent of the School District of Hillsborough County Schools; Al Higginbotham, County Commissioner; Sandy Murman, County Commissioner; and Dr. Ginger Clark, Vice President of Workforce Development for Hillsborough Community College.

To date, the initiative has provided nearly $300,000 worth of machining and welding equipment for students at Brewster Technical College; and at Tampa Bay Tech, Hillsborough, Jefferson, and Armwood high schools.  In addition, the Alliance partners are working to establish internships, summer camps and educational initiatives to educate and raise awareness among students for careers in the manufacturing sector.

The Alliance was initially formed as the Hillsborough County Manufacturing Academy and supported with $1 million of funding from the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners.  It was formed after a Hillsborough-Pinellas Manufacturing Gap Analysis found that the growth of the industry was going to supersede the jobs pipeline in the County.  The analysis found that an outdated vision of manufacturing and general lack of understanding of the industry was keeping students and job seekers from looking at manufacturing as a viable career option.

In addition to the presentations from County leaders, students from the Tampa Bay Tech High School manufacturing program provided demonstrations on their new welding simulator.

More information on the Hillsborough County manufacturing sector and the Alliance can be found at www.madeinhillsborough.org.