Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday March 21st 2018


A Jumpstart for Job Training

By Rick Outzen

Last week, Governor Rick Scott announced $35 million in awards for nine Florida Job Growth Grant Fund projects across the state. The governor announced the awards in Jacksonville, where he gave the city $6 million for the construction of a new 1.5-mile access roadway to the city-owned Cecil Commerce Center Mega Site to provide access for the manufacturing industry.

The Canaveral Port Authority, Liberty County, Suwannee County, Columbia County, Washington County and the cities of Alachua and Port St. Lucie also were awarded grants. The only state college among the list of awardees was Pensacola State, which received $1,860, 500 for its workforce training programs.

All of the awarded economic development projects will enhance community infrastructure or develop workforce training programs and have demonstrated a healthy return on investment. The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was established by Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature last year to encourage continued economic growth across Florida communities. The Governor’s recommended 2018-2019 budget includes $85 million in continuation funding for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

“We have worked to ensure that every awarded project will strengthen Florida’s business climate and bring the best return on investment for Florida taxpayers,” said Gov. Scott the ceremony in Jacksonville. “Florida is competing in a global economy, and we must do everything we can to ensure our state remains the top destination for families and job creators to succeed. We will continue to work with the legislature to invest $85 million in the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, and I look forward to seeing the successful completion of these projects.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Enterprise Florida (EFI) reviewed the projects for Gov. Scott’s approval based on their strong return on investment to the state and to meet the demand for a robust workforce or infrastructure needs. Return on investment was calculated to determine the best projects for the state and economic development in the regions.

Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of DEO, said, “We have worked diligently to evaluate more than 225 Florida Job Growth Grant Fund proposals requesting more than $821 million in funding. Each selected proposal has a strong return on investment and a commitment to improving the regional economic climate by meeting specific workforce and infrastructure needs. We look forward to the opportunities this funding will bring families across the Sunshine State.”

Greater Pensacola Career Pathways
The Pensacola State College application for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was a collaborative effort under the umbrella of the Greater Pensacola Career Pathways initiative, which is a partnership with Pensacola State College, George Stone Technical Center and the Escambia County School District, CareerSource ESCAROSA and FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance.

“Pensacola State College thanks Gov. Scott for his leadership with the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which will help create new opportunities for our students to receive the workforce training they need for their future careers,” Pensacola State President Ed Meadows said. “We will continue to do all we can to make sure our students have the resources and preparation they need to succeed.”

The Job Growth Fund grant will increase the number of students earning industry-recognized credentials and degrees required to enter and advance in the workforce for targeted industries, including advanced manufacturing, aviation maintenance, welding, cybersecurity/information technology, nursing, transportation and construction trades.

The funds will help the area to meet the growing demand for a trained labor force. The Greater Pensacola Chamber’s 2014 labor market gap analysis revealed a demand for 1,092 of net new and replacement workers for Information Technology occupations and 2,150 for Advanced Manufacturing industries.

Since then, the region has seen expansions in major companies, including Navy Federal Credit Union and VTMAE, both of which considered the region’s ability to provide the technical workforce needed before expanding operations in NWFL. VTMAE is expected to infuse $61.9 million a year into the local economy. Navy Federal’s growing economic impact is expected to reach $243 million by 2020 and has been transformative for our community. Developing and diversifying Escambia County’s pro-jobs business climate requires creating a skilled workforce in the targeted industry sectors.

“FloridaWest thanks the Governor and the FLDEO for this grant which will enable area students to take advantage of great career opportunities in high wage growth areas and diversify our workforce for future projects,” said Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest.

The majority of education and training provided will be delivered through postsecondary education and training programs at Pensacola State College campuses, centers and satellite locations enabled with connected classroom technology, and at George Stone Technical Center.

The total budget of the training initiative is $4.9 million. Other grants and resources will fund the $3 million not covered by the Florida Job Growth Grant:

Workforce Training Project Costs:
Equipment: $ 530.750
Personnel: $ 2.336.753
Facilities:  $641.222
Tuition:  $473,400
Training Materials: $ 645,801
Other:  $ 280,783
Total Project Costs $4,908,710

The job training programs will also include high-school seniors participating in selected Escambia County School District’s Career Academies and entering the workforce during the project period. Focusing on the career pathways will allow secondary students who earn industry-recognized certifications in high skill/high wage occupations to immediately enter the workforce while continuing with postsecondary education in technical areas offering degrees and stackable certifications.

Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent of Escambia County School District, said Escambia County Schools, including George Stone Technical Center, are thrilled to be included in the Greater Pensacola Career Pathways initiative.

“Anyone who has explored the variety of career and technical education academies the Escambia School District offers to middle school and high school students would know, we are dedicated to preparing students for life after graduation whether that requires college, taking additional career classes at George Stone, or having earned professional certifications that allow entry directly into the local workforce,” the superintendent said. “Working together with all of our partners in this initiative helps ensure educational programs offered today will match the employment needs of our community tomorrow.”

Gulf Power Co., GBSI, VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Skanska, Baptist Hospital, AppRiver, Techsoft, Home Builders Association of West Florida, Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council and IT Gulf Coast and Innovation Coast, also collaborated on the proposal.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward’s office released a letter that was sent to Gov. Scott also thanking him for the grant and touted him for being a “champion for Pensacola.”

“Congratulations to Pensacola State College for receiving this award,” wrote Hayward. “This workforce development funding supports the shared goal of developing our talent and our area as a smart choice for investment and business growth.”