By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2020 Issue
If “economic stewardship” were the watchwords during the first decade of the 21st century, surely “sustainable development” now is front and center as the second decade begins to unfold. And what exactly do these two terms mean?
Environmental stewardship, was always in the eye of the beholder. Sure, fracking is a “cleaner” alternative to burning coal, but the atmosphere doesn’t really care about the origins of the carbon molecules after they get there.
This vagueness starts to evaporate when we ponder sustainable development, because sustainability is a metric that can and should be measured.
One expert notes that, simply speaking, sustainable development means the development which should keep going. Ordinarily speaking, it is a situation in which economic development does not decrease over time; sustainable development is the development that is everlasting.
Are you getting dizzy contemplating this Zen diagram? Okay, then let’s boil it down to a nutshell: sustainable development is a process in which the natural resources that are required for the development are not allowed to deteriorate, but instead are renewed. Such renewable may take place every time the sun rises or the wind blows.
Oh, and lest we forget, “environment” may be defined as the sum total of all natural factors that directly influence the chance of organisms (plants, animals, human beings) to survive and reproduce. In other words, if we humans want to consider ourselves a sustainable species, we can’t keep messing up the ecosystem that is our habitat.
TAMPA BAY, FL: GLOBAL HUB FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING
Manufacturing has a long history in Tampa Bay, where it is a source of innovation for a wide range of industries, and it hasn’t slowed down. One of the region’s greatest business success stories over the past decade is the growth of the manufacturing sector.
Florida ranks among the nation’s top 10 states for manufacturing, according to Enterprise Florida, and the Tampa Bay region has the second largest manufacturing employment in the state. From 2009-2018, manufacturing employment rose by more than 13 percent and average annual wages went up by 25 percent.
The region is home to the global headquarters of several leading manufacturing firms including Bertram Yachts, The Mosaic Company, Advanced Airfoil Components and Jabil. The Tampa Bay area’s fast-growing population, pro-business climate, robust talent pipeline, and convenient location on the busy I-4 warehouse, distribution and logistics corridor has attracted more than 2,800 manufacturing firms, employing more than 62,000 people.
Whether it’s addressing precise military specifications, developing medical devices, or addressing sustainability efforts, local firms are advancing modern manufacturing technology and making an impact across the globe.
The Tampa Bay region is known for its collaborative and supportive business community, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Local organizations such as the Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Florida, and Florida High Tech Corridor are resources for industry leaders to exchange ideas, share best practices, and network with colleagues.
With workforce challenges a growing concern, both industry and educational institutions have partnered together to cultivate the next generation of workers.
The Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County has designed education curriculum and training programs to meet the existing and emerging workforce needs of Hillsborough County manufacturers. Learners of all ages and skill levels train for available opportunities in the field today, while preparing for the advances of tomorrow.
The Alliance works with the Hillsborough County School District to offer programs in such areas as robotics, engineering, and machining technology. Students and experienced workers can also continue their training at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in areas such as applied welding, engineering technology and industrial machining.
These programs not only help employers find the skilled talent that they require, but they also provide the region’s youth with dynamic and exciting career paths that don’t require a college degree. These young people find good paying jobs with full benefits waiting for them upon high school graduation.
The region continues to attract new companies while supporting existing manufacturers. In recent years, several global brands as well as newcomers have chosen the Tampa Bay area to set up state-of-the-art facilities and create high-quality jobs for local residents.
In 2017, Siemens and Chromalloy Gas Turbine Corporation announced the Tampa area as the headquarters of their new joint venture, Advanced Airfoil Components, which manufactures and produces components to maximize gas turbine performance. The 210,000 square- foot facility opened in southern Hillsborough County in 2018 with plans to hire 350 workers for a range of skilled positions, including technical engineers, manufacturing technicians, and production workers.
After being acquired by a group headed by Beniamino Gavio, legendary boat builder Bertram Yachts was looking for a new place to establish its international headquarters. Tampa was ultimately chosen over locations in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and in 2016 Bertram Yachts made the announcement that the iconic American brand would get a fresh start in its original home state, creating 140 new jobs and investing $35 million.
As environmental concerns continue to grow, the Tampa Bay area has attracted several companies doing their part to address sustainability efforts.
NuCycle Energy acquires and processes pre-consumer waste materials such as non-recyclable, coated paper and cardboard, Styrofoam, plastic films, wood materials and other packaging materials from large companies and distributors, like those in the retail space, and manufactures them into a clean, energy dense fuel product. Not only is NuCycle producing a cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels, but it is also redirecting 200,000 tons of waste annually from landfills. NuCycle opened its 103,000-square-foot facility in Plant City in 2019.
Also, in 2019, Anuvia Plant Nutrients announced it had entered into a long-term strategic relationship with Tampa-headquartered The Mosaic Company to increase production for its biobased sustainable and environmentally friendly plant nutrients. Anuvia will utilize a portion of Mosaic’s shuttered Plant City phosphate production facility and repurpose existing infrastructure to produce its products while creating 135 new jobs with an average salary of $70,000.
Companies that have operated in the Tampa region for decades continue to thrive. In 2019, leading training and simulation company CAE USA broke ground on its new headquarters facility, which will create an additional 100 new jobs to its existing workforce of more than 500. Tampa Armature Works, a manufacturer of electrical equipment, has prospered in Tampa for nearly 100 years and employs more than 600 people today.
As the Tampa Bay region continues to grow and produce the skilled talent these companies need, the future of the manufacturing industry is bright.
MAKING SOME GREEN IN FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA
Fauquier County is one of the largest and most beautiful counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The community takes pride in its beautiful vistas, quaint towns and villages, agricultural diversity and rich history. Nevertheless, the county builds upon and protects it quality of life by growing its businesses, supporting our entrepreneurs and encouraging new businesses to find a home here.
The county is working hard to strengthen and diversify its economic base, and as such, is a development friendly community. In this regard, Fauquier County has found a means to craft its development in a way that not only supports business growth, but is also environmentally responsible. Trusting to the private businesses to make economically sound decisions, the county now offers incentives to investment by environmental firms, to energy efficient companies and to those moving toward a more environmentally sound course of development.
Encouraged by the efforts of our western neighbors, who have long recognized that economic development and environmental responsibility are intertwined and not opposed, Fauquier began to look at what might be possible here in the east. We found some innovative ideas on how economic developers were providing incentives that not only helped the environment, but also provided a boost to their business expansion and attraction efforts. What’s more, communities like ours, who value entrepreneurship are natural breeding grounds for environmental startups and provide a nurturing atmosphere for growing your company.
Virginia already authorizes communities to offer incentives to technology companies, defense industry businesses and tourism-related firms, but why not, we asked, offer incentives to spur environmentally friendly development using a similar venue to the zone programs cited in the three previous areas? Thus, the Virginia legislature, then having a Republican majority, passed the Green Development Zone authorizing legislation and the Governor, a Democrat, signed it. This demonstrated the bipartisan support in Virginia for growing businesses in an environmentally-friendly manner.
The county recently saw completion of a new, business-friendly, terminal at the Warrenton-Fauquier Airport. The terminal has all the resources your business might want for conducting meetings at the airport, already a popular destination for corporate jets. The terminal was built with an emphasis on green innovations, including solar panels, energy efficiency and rainwater harvesting.
Development opportunities are amplified by a fuller service local airport and the use of green technologies that help to set an example for development in the surrounding district. The county views the terminal as a shining example of environmentally-guided construction and it will serve as the cornerstone for our efforts to bring businesses to a green business enclave in the Midland district of Fauquier County.
Fauquier County is hopeful that the airport, coupled with enhancements to water and sewer service to the area, will help create a critical mass of businesses on and around the airport, and many of these businesses could well be attracted by the Green Development Zone incentives.
Investment in Fauquier County’s Green Development Zones, which cover the entirety of our Service Districts (areas designated as priority locations for business development) include the waiver for reimbursement of several county development fees, as well as three years of tax reimbursement for Business Personal Property, BPOL and some other local taxes. What’s more, these incentives can also be layered upon or added to incentives offered under the Technology Zones, Defense Production Zones and Tourism Zones. Fauquier County offers incentives under every program authorized for local incentives by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
To underscore the notion that economic developers and environmentalists can collaborate, the Green Development Zone concept and adoption at the local level was openly supported by local environmental groups, further strengthening the team concept that had already been building in both camps. Moreover, the county commitment to green development has helped inspire our young people, many of whom did background research in support of developing this Zone concept and which influenced some of their feelings to remain in the area or to return after college.
This effort in Fauquier County, and at the state level, has been bipartisan, and is a force that brings together baby boomers and today’s young people, business owners and government and neighboring communities around the possibility of regional approaches.
Ultimately, as more communities step through the door that Fauquier helped open, Virginia could well become “The Greenest State on the East Coast.”
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