July 8, 2020
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Economic development partnerships create win for Southwest Florida with 250 jobs and -over $50 million in capital investment
On January 9, Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope joined a host of state and community leaders to celebrate the opening of Air Products’ new manufacturing facility in Manatee County. With 53 employees already in place, Air Products plans to hire 200 more employees and anticipates a capital investment of over $50 million injected into the community over the next four years. The new facility is yet another strong example of a global manufacturer that has chosen Florida to grow its business.
“In the past, people knew our state for the tourism brand. But we’re really putting a lot of emphasis on attracting manufacturing projects to the state,” said Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope, who also serves as president & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), the state’s principal economic development organization. “It’s a great win for Manatee County. It’s a great win for Port Manatee. It’s a great win for the state when you see an industry-leading manufacturing company like this putting more than $50 million in capital investment into a facility that will ultimately have 250 employees here.”
Air Products is a world leader in clean energy technology. Their state-of-the-art and proprietary liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology and equipment allows natural gas to be compressed and cryogenically liquefied for consumer and industrial energy use. Once liquefied, the gas can be transported from remote locations all over the world and re-gasified for energy use. While the company has conducted manufacturing operations in Wilkes-Barre, PA since the late 1960s, they faced constraints in shipping their larger heat exchangers, which can measure 180 feet long and weigh up to 500 tons. The need for a site with deep water port access inspired the search for a secondary facility that could both manufacture the equipment and ship it directly to global customers.
Florida’s availability of 15 deep water ports made the state a front-runner in site selection. EFI worked hand-in-hand with the company and local officials to tour various coastal cities and identify the ideal piece of property adjacent to a deep water port. Air Products discovered exactly what they were looking for in the small city of Palmetto, right across the highway from Port Manatee.
John McGlade, Air Products’ Chairman, President and CEO said, “After a year of searching in a number of different locations around the United States, the proximity to Port Manatee and the support that we got from the state and local economic development corporations, and from the Manatee County Board of Commissioners, really made us feel like this is the place we wanted to be.”
Not only can the company take advantage of readily accessible port services to facilitate global shipping, but the region offers a business-friendly environment and skilled workforce, with job placement services provided by CareerSource Florida and specialized technical training programs offered by Manatee Technical Institute (MTI). Air Products was also able to take advantage of a $100,000 training grant offered by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative to help local employers in the Manatee-Sarasota region create a skilled labor pool through training at MTI and other area institutions.
“While there were a lot of attributes physically, the fact that we had the Manatee Technical Institute down the street [was key],” said McGlade. “We can’t manufacture without skilled manufacturing technicians, welders and others. The capabilities and skills that they develop there are absolutely critical for this facility and to manufacturing across our country today.”
Florida’s business climate has improved greatly over the last few years, thanks to reductions in manufacturing equipment taxes and burdensome regulations. Getting companies to market as quickly as possible is a goal of EFI and its community partners. EFI worked with those partners and others at the state level to ensure that Air Products’ large-scale manufacturing facility could find the right fit in the Palmetto area, and helped guide the company through the permitting process to ensure they could get under construction and operational as quickly as possible.
The project would not have been possible without a strong partnership at the state and local levels. Partners that helped to make the project a success include Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Manatee County Government, CareerSource Suncoast, Manatee Technical Institute, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Port Manatee and Florida Power & Light (FPL).
Air Products also qualified for FPL’s economic development rate, designed to help attract new companies to Florida. The program reduces Air Products’ base electric rate for four years and could generate significant savings for the company.
“We’re proud to have worked hand-in-hand with Enterprise Florida to bring Air Products to Manatee County,” said Lynn Pitts, FPL’s Director of Economic Development. “From access to deep water ports and a trained workforce to affordable electricity and more, Florida has a lot to offer companies. The investments we are all making to attract and grow businesses in Florida are working.”
Job creation continues to be a priority for Governor Scott, as evidenced by recent economic development announcements from companies such as Brinks, Hertz, Amazon, USAA, Verizon, and Northrop Grumman. In 2013, Enterprise Florida announced 172 economic development projects that are contracted to create nearly 25,400 new jobs and more than $1.96 billion in capital investment. Learn more about recent economic development announcements and initiatives on EFI’s newsroom.
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Enterprise Florida, Inc. is a partnership between Florida’s businesses and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. EFI facilitates job growth for Florida businesses through recruitment and retention, international trade and exporting, promotion of sporting events, and capital funding programs to assist small and minority businesses.