With Class A industrial park facilities, three rail lines and ample outbound trucking, Northeast Florida is one of the most sought-after manufacturing locations in the Southeast. Shipping and receiving parts or finished goods is seamless via truck, rail or even ship, especially through JAXPORT because it is the most western of any eastern seaport – making it closer to customers in inland locations.
JAXUSA Partnership, the region’s economic development organization, has helped increase manufacturing jobs in the area, which has contributed to Jacksonville’s ranking as one of the top 20 economies in 2013. Jacksonville’s No. 16 rank is up from No. 99 in 2012, according to the On Numbers Economic Index.
Saft America, Northrop Grumman Corporation, BAE Systems, Kaman Aerospace, Rayonier and Boeing are some of the manufacturing companies growing in the region.
Medical device manufacturer Medtronic has planned a $14 million expansion of its ENT headquarters that will create 175 new jobs, while Vistakon, the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care division, is expanding with a $218 million addition to its manufacturing center.
Regional leaders strive to provide an ideal manufacturing environment. The First Coast Manufacturers Association works with local schools and industry stakeholders to align workforce training with manufacturing jobs. The Jacksonville Lean Consortium helps companies maximize production by deploying lean techniques to streamline processes.
Northeast Florida has a strong military presence that provides a skilled, highly trained workforce. The advanced manufacturing sector employs more than 14,000 people, or about 2.3 percent of all jobs in the region. The projected five-year growth rate is 3.1 percent, while the overall growth rate in this sector for the U.S. has decreased 2.2 percent.
“The talent in Northeast Florida is helping us drive innovation. We hire locally and find the people here to be highly intelligent and the workforce to be superior to anything we have found in other areas of our company,” said Mark Fletcher, President ENT Division, Medtronic.