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By Nikki Cabus

FloridaMakes Bring the Veteran Advantage to the Workplace Initiative Connects Veterans to Manufacturing

Read Time 3 Minutes

FloridaMakes proudly announces the launch of a groundbreaking workforce program in sync with Governor DeSantis’ goal of enhancing employment and educational opportunities for veterans, active military members, and their families.

This initiative, “Bring the Veteran Advantage to the Workplace” is specifically designed to seamlessly connect transitioning servicemembers with lucrative manufacturing apprenticeship occupations, further solidifying Florida’s commitment to supporting our nation’s heroes.

FloridaMakes is a statewide, industry-led, public-private partnership operated by an alliance of Florida’s regional manufacturers associations and partner organizations with the sole mission of strengthening and advancing Florida’s economy by improving the competitiveness, productivity, and technological performance of its manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized firms. It accomplishes this by providing services focused on three principal value streams: technology adoption, talent development, and business growth. FloridaMakes is the representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network in the state of Florida, a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The program is funded through The Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG), administered by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). This initiative gives Florida manufacturers the opportunity to bring the veteran advantage to their workplace, through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) SkillBridge and to develop and prepare their future workforce with industry-driven, high-quality career pathways through registered apprenticeships that provide post-secondary education and lead to industry recognized certifications. Florida manufacturers, through this program, can enroll and provide upskilling opportunities to their existing veteran workforce.

“Through this initiative, we’re poised to connect the innovation-driven needs of the manufacturing sector with the discipline, leadership, and technical acumen of our veterans. We are not just filling jobs; we are forging career pathways.” said Marcelo DosSantos, Director for Workforce Development at FloridaMakes.

Orion Talent, a recognized leader in military hiring solutions, will play a crucial role in recruiting and coordinating interviews with manufacturers throughout Florida. Orion Talent’s HireSkills program combines industry certification training and transition assistance, providing a seamless transition for servicemembers into promising careers in the manufacturing sector.

This initiative not only addresses the skill gap in the manufacturing sector but also enhances the diversity and innovation of the workforce by integrating the unique experiences and perspectives of veterans. Companies can also take advantage of the program to upskill existing veterans in their workforce.

“The Florida SkillBridge Initiative creates unprecedented opportunities to build a highly skilled talent pipeline for manufacturing employers while attracting transitioning servicemembers across the country to Florida,” said Joe Marino, Executive Director of Veterans Florida. “As the state’s principal Department of Defense SkillBridge awareness and assistance organization, we are proud to work with FloridaMakes to ensure experienced veterans continue to choose our state as their home.”

Veterans Florida is a nonprofit created by the State of Florida to help military veterans and their families transition to civilian life. And promote Florida’s status as the nation’s most veteran-friendly state under Florida’s Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) Program. Veterans Florida is also the state’s designated DOD Skillbridge assistance organization. Thgeir mission can be summed up in the theme – Your Pursuit.Our Power – because we recognize military veterans are incredibly focused and will success achieving their personal and professional goals when they take advantage of our tools and resources.

Florida’s continued ascent in the manufacturing sector at becoming one of the leading manufacturing states in the nation, complemented by its status as the state with the third-largest veteran population in the country, reveals an exceptional opportunity for Florida’s manufacturers to recognize and tap into the remarkable, yet underutilized, reservoir of talent that veterans represent.

For more information about program, visit:

By Nikki Cabus

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Award of $4 Million to Indian River State College to Create Advanced Technology Workforce

Read Time 5 Minutes

Governor Ron Desantis visited Indian River State College on February 7th to announce a $4 million award to further advanced technology programs. 

A leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College transforms lives by offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Florida’s Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is a recipient of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. The College serves nearly 22,000 students annually and offers more than 100 programs leading to Bachelor’s degrees, Associate degrees, technical certificates and applied technology diplomas.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance at the brand new IRSC’s Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex located on the Massey Campus in Ft. Pierce when the Governor announced the $4 million award. The funds will be used to create advanced technology workforce development programs and build an innovative Center of Ballistics and Emerging Technology.

The funding is through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund (JGGF) which makes strategic investments in programs that build stronger communities and support workforce training across the state. The JGGF is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by FloridaCommerce and chosen by the Governor to meet the demand for workforce or infrastructure needs in the community they are awarded to. The Fund allocated $40 million and awarded 20 projects in fiscal year 2021-2022 and 18 in fiscal year 2022-2023.

“We see an opportunity to use the job growth grant to really make an impact not just with workforce, but also for the economy here on the Treasure Coast of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“So I am today pleased to be able to award a $4 million grant through the job growth grant fund to Indian River State College to create a new center for ballistics and emerging technology.”

The Center for Ballistics and Emerging Technology will serve as the nexus where industry partners, law enforcement agents, workforce training professionals, and Indian River State College students and faculty collaborate. The project plans to create more than 300 new advanced manufacturing-trained graduates over the next ten years.

The project underscores Indian River State College’s vision to provide development and testing to support business and innovation. This project will allow the College to expand its training in advanced manufacturing, particularly in precision fabrication and mechatronics. The project complements the programs and facilities of the Eastman Advanced Manufacturing Building and the Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex.

The 60,000-square-foot Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex is Florida’s newest, most technologically advanced workforce training facility. The official ribbon cutting was held last Fall on November 1, 2023 with over 400 in attendance from elected officials to professionals in the local community.

Expansive laboratories dedicated to Mechatronics, Robotics and Smart Automation, Welding, Automotive Technology, Refrigeration, HVAC, and more are carefully designed and outfitted to support students as they earn certifications and degrees in programs that help satisfy the region’s growing need for a highly skilled talent pipeline. Students train in immersive educational environments with a network of experienced instructors, utilizing best-in-class technology as they build the critical skills required for rewarding careers in high-demand occupations.

“The manufacturing industry in America is growing rapidly, and Florida, in particular, is home to an expanding manufacturing ecosystem,” said Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. “With the opening of our Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex, Indian River State College is poised to deliver a talent pipeline that meets the workforce needs of today and tomorrow, bolstering our region’s economy and attractiveness to employers, expanding career opportunities for our citizens, and helping realize Governor Ron DeSantis’s goal to be the number one state in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”

“This grant will help take technology off the shelf, put it to use, and help those who protect us,” said Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. “The Governor’s support has been instrumental. I cannot think of a more important way to demonstrate the value of education, the value of technology, and the value of leadership.”

The site is also home to and informed by the Advanced Manufacturing Hub, a collaborative effort to address the looming shortage of local workforce in precision machining, industrial automation systems, integrated smart factory operations, supply chain automation and logistics. The Hub offers a broad range of programs introducing critical knowledge and hands-on skills in areas enabling the growth and automation of Industry 4.0.—the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing industry in America is growing at a rapid rate. Florida is home to an expanding manufacturing ecosystem. Over 24,000 manufacturers support 426,000 manufacturing jobs with average salaries of $74,575. According to the Florida Commerce 2023 Florida Manufacturing Report, “Florida’s manufacturing employment reached 422,800 in September 2023, passing both Georgia and New York to become the 10th largest state in the country for manufacturing employment. Manufacturing employment has grown by 23.3% since 2014, again significantly higher than other leading manufacturing states.”

As manufacturing jobs continue to be reshored to the United States from global markets, Florida is poised to become one of the top five manufacturing states by 2030. In 2019, Governor DeSantis set a clear goal that Florida would be #1 in workforce education by 2030. IRSC President, Dr. Moore, intends to make that happen!

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By Nikki Cabus

South Florida Manufacturer’s Association celebrates their 44th Recognition of Excellence Award

Read Time 3 Minutes

The South Florida Manufacturer’s Association (SFMA) recently held their 44th annual Recognition of Excellence Ceremony where 11 companies and individuals were celebrated for their leadership.

Presented by Randstad, the event celebrated and awarded excellence in two different categories of distinction: Manufacturer of the Year and Employee of the Year. Honorees were chosen from an operational and talent development standpoint within the manufacturing industry.  With good talent often being hard to find and often keep, especially within the manufacturing industry, this ceremony was of special importance to recognizing and appreciating the workforce in manufacturing. It was a great way for current SFMA members to connect and with other supporters from the business community.

The South Florida Manufacturers Association has held the distinction of being the #1 resource for manufacturers in South Florida since 1961 – saving its members time and money through advocacy, networking and resources such as training, grant assistance and workforce development programs.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Carolyn Aronson, entrepreneur, philanthropist, manufacturer, and the founder and CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare, which is one of the only female-owned professional hair care brands in the world. She announced full ownership of the company in 2017 and bought out her partner. In addition, as of November 2020, Carolyn announced the launch of Be A 10 Cosmetics, where she is also the Founder, CEO and owner of the brand.

“What a magical evening . . . and congratulations to all our winners. From all the nominees, finalists and winners, we witnessed the dominance of manufacturing in South Florida,” wrote Matt Rocco, President of SFMA in a social media post.


  • Trimteck: 1 – 30 employees (Broward County)
  • Kimre: 31 – 65 employees (Miami-Dade County)
  • Century Metals & Supplies: 66 – 120 employees (Miami-Dade County)
  • Decimal Engineering: 121 and above employees (Broward County)

Our Manufacturer of the Year Award focuses on process, and the nominees are judged using an assessment from the Malcom Baldridge Quality Award of Excellence focused on the areas of Leadership, Strategic Planning, Customer and Market Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management, Workforce, and Operations.

The SFMA received 100 nominations for Manufacturer of the Year and judges collectively amassed well over 600 hours of their time as volunteers to judge our nominees. These judges are manufacturing professionals and others who touch the manufacturing industry.



  • Administrative: Sara Piergrossi @ Decimal Engineering
  • Production Support: Katie Ha @ Stryker
  • Supervisory: Stephanie Mason @ ACR Electronics, Inc.
  • Engineering: James Merryman @ SV Microwave, Inc.
  • Information Technology: Rupinder Singh @ Terumo Aortic
  • Production: Alejandro Salazar @ SV Microwave, Inc.
  • Service Provider: Alexandra Corilloclla @ Randstad

Employee nominees are part of an elite class that dedicates their work to making the manufacturing industry impactful and their many accomplishments are celebrated. Nominees are judged based on their accomplishments from the past year, examples of acting above/beyond the call of duty, and how they are distinguished from their peers.



FloridaMakes Bring the Veteran Advantage to the Workplace Initiative Connects Veterans to Manufacturing
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Award of $4 Million to Indian River State College to Create Advanced Technology Workforce
South Florida Manufacturer’s Association celebrates their 44th Recognition of Excellence Award