LABELLE -- The Hendry County Board of County Commissioners have joined other Florida counties in proclaiming October 2021 as Manufacturing Month during its regular meeting Sept. 28.
Manufacturing Month is recognized nationwide and by Gov. Ron DeSantis for the state of Florida.
Rob Harris, regional director of Southwest Regional Manufacturing Association of Florida, spoke at the BOCC meeting about the importance of manufacturing at the local level.
Harris said he covers seven counties in southwest and western Florida and recently visited the Glades County Board of Commissioners for its proclamation of the same on Sept. 14.
Harris issued the same encouragement to Hendry County commissioners as he did to Glades County – don’t overbuild with residential rooftops at the expense of manufacturing facilities.
“One of the things I see in other counties that are densely populated is they’ve been asked time and time again to turn land into residential land,” he said.
Naturally, that will happen at some point, he said, but some counties overbuilt residential properties to the detriment of manufacturers or light industrial opportunities.
“So where are all these residents going to work?” he said.
He said it has become a big problem even for bedroom communities that are now starting to allot land for manufacturing facilities to keep residents employed locally.
He added that he knows Hendry County has plenty of open land so far but urged commissioners to keep manufacturing growth in mind as it plans the future.
“Manufacturing is an industry that pays above wages and is a great career,” he said.
He pointed to how the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many industries, but manufacturing kept going.
“We’re in the stages of working with the Hendry County EDC,” he said. “I know there are more and more manufacturers starting to move this way and we want to be here to support them and support you.”
Headquartered in Fort Myers, SRMA connects manufacturers in southwest Florida with educational and informational support, networking events, public relations tools, CEO roundtable discussions, grants and more.
SRMA represents nearly 1,100 manufacturing facilities in the region that produce a variety of products that provides employment for about 13,000 residents at an average annual wage of $55,000. It supports school programs and works with educators to increase awareness of career opportunities.
The proclamation states that recognition of National Manufacturing Day is an effective way to bring attention to the importance of manufacturing in the nation’s economy, drawing attention to high-paying, highly skilled and rewarding manufacturing careers within the local community.
Commissioners approved the proclomation in a 5-0 vote.