The University of West Florida Office of Workforce and Industrial Innovation is partnering with FloridaMakes to support manufacturers in the 10 westernmost counties in the state through consulting, workshops and networking services.
The UWF FloridaMakes team primarily targets the 225 manufacturing companies in the region with at least 15 employees, said Nicole Gislason, director of the Office of Workforce and Industrial Innovation.
“While we will serve manufacturers with fewer than 15 employees, by targeting those with over 15, we know there will be potential projects and impacts related to services we provide,” she said.
UWF FloridaMakes specifically serves members of the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council and the Technology Coast Manufacturing Engineering Network. It provides access to experts and scientists in manufacturing, engineering, cybersecurity and business development. The partnership connects manufacturers to an extensive network of resources.
“Most of these small businesses, they don’t have time to pick up the phone and call a bunch of people and figure out, Who can I get to help me resolve an issue?” said Daniel Krug, senior business advisor with the Office of Workforce and Industrial Innovation. “With our networked resources throughout the state through FloridaMakes, we have vetted third-party providers that we know we can contact and they’ve been used before. And they come recommended from other business advisors.”
Krug is one of three business advisors who are part of the UWF FloridaMakes team.
“The three business advisors are the boots on the ground helping to convey the opportunities available to (manufacturers) through FloridaMakes,” Gislason said.
UWF FloridaMakes offers manufacturers a series of technology awareness workshops. Among those workshops is an internal auditing course for aerospace facilities.
“We bring in a world-class consultant for that,” Gislason said. “The actual auditors who are conducting the audits of aerospace facilities in the region, they’re the ones leading these workshops.”
Manufacturers are also able to use of the state-of-the-art UWF Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory located in the Museum of Commerce in downtown Pensacola to create 3D products.
“One of the most unique aspects of our program is the Sea3D Lab and how we are able to work with companies to prototype different components of their work,” Gislason said.
Universities need to play a key role in the future of manufacturing because many jobs, like those in automation, design, and management will require a bachelor’s degree, Gislason said.
“We need to be actively engaged in developing the people power that will power the facilities of the future,” she said.