Manufacturing Sector Contributes 33 Percent Higher Wages, Economic Growth Opportunities in Rural Florida

New Study by FloridaMakes Provides Insights on Manufacturing Impact in

State’s Three Rural Areas of Opportunity

(ORLANDO, FL) Sept. 30, 2016 – A new study conducted in rural areas of Florida reveals that wages earned by those working in the manufacturing sector were among the highest locally compared to other industries and were almost 33 percent higher than average earnings in 2015.  The finding was part of a study conducted by FloridaMakes, the state’s national manufacturing extension partnership program, under a grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), to assess opportunities for retention and/or expansion of existing manufacturing firms in rural communities.  

“This study provides new insight on the impact that manufacturing has in Florida’s three Rural Areas of Opportunities, as well as an analysis of the industry clusters that currently exist in those areas,” said Kevin Carr, FloridaMakes CEO.  “The results of this study will enable FloridaMakes and DEO to identify strategies and services to support manufacturing and further economic growth opportunities for these regions.”

The State of Florida has designated three Rural Areas of Opportunity as priority regions for the Rural Economic Development Initiative.  The Rural Areas of Opportunity are defined as areas that have “been hurt by an extraordinary economic event, severe or chronic distress, or a natural disaster or that present a unique economic development opportunity of regional impact.”  Florida Rural Areas of Opportunity, all of which were included in the study, are: 

  • Northwest Rural Area of Opportunity (Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington counties; and the City of Freeport in Walton County);
  • North Central Rural Area of Opportunity (Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Putnam, Suwannee, Taylor, and Union counties); and
  • South Central Rural Area of Opportunity (DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee counties; cities of Pahokee, Belle Glade, and South Bay-Palm Beach County, and Immokalee in Collier County.

Manufacturing from the three rural regions contributes nearly $1.8 billion to Florida’s economic output and represents 8 percent of the region’s total Gross Domestic Product.  In addition to supporting more than 16,000 jobs that pay over $800 million in earnings, manufacturers in these regions also pay $70 million a year in production taxes, generating a large impact on the regions in which they reside.

Manufacturing companies also purchase significant inputs from many other sectors including agricultural products and other production inputs, materials and supplies, professional services, and transportation services. And because manufacturing is a large exporter, it attracts outside dollars to the region while providing jobs and economic growth to those communities.

Among the study findings:

  • Each region has a high percentage of very small manufacturers, with fewer than five employees. 
  • The North Central region is the most industrialized with more companies and more workers in manufacturing.  
  • The wood products industry is significant in both the Northwest and the North Central regions.  Products derived from the yellow pine forests in northern Florida comprise the most important industries, including commodity product sawmills and pulp and paper mills, as well as higher value products such as trusses, millwork, and cabinets.
  • The chemical industry is important to all three regions.  More than 80 percent of the chemical firms have fewer than 50 employees.
  • Transport equipment, mostly boat building and servicing in the north, life rafts and airboats in the south, is also relatively important. 
  • Cement and concrete products include blocks, bricks, roof tiles, septic tanks, and other finished products that pose more manufacturing challenges than ready-mix are important in the South Central region.

The full report, Rural Area Manufacturing Study:  An Assessment of Manufacturing in Florida’s Rural Areas and the Opportunities for Growth and Expansion, can be accessed on  www.FloridaMakes.com and click on ManuFacts.

For information about FloridaMakes and its services for manufacturers, visit www.floridamakes.com or call (407) 450-7206.

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About FloridaMakes
FloridaMakes is a statewide service created by manufacturers, for manufacturers, and builds on the solid foundation of Florida’s network of regional manufacturers associations. FloridaMakes supports the growth, competitive ability and profitability of Florida’s nearly 19,000 manufacturers. Services are customized to meet the needs and opportunities of individual companies based on an enterprise assessment, and include process improvement, business growth and innovation, supply chain optimization, product development, adoption of best practices and appropriate advanced technologies, sustainability, market expansion and other services. Part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), FloridaMakes provides access to national and local, public and private resources. FloridaMakes operates with support from the State of Florida, NIST and Florida’s manufacturers.  For more information visit http://www.floridamakes.com/ and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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