FDOE hold apprenticeship accelerator event in Pensacola

FDOE hold apprenticeship accelerator event in Pensacola

FDOE hold apprenticeship accelerator event in Pensacola

Presentation at the apprenticeship event.PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) held the Employer Apprenticeship Accelerator event in Pensacola on December 8. Coordinated by First Place Partners and NWFMC and held at Pensacola State College, the FDOE presented details about the benefits of providing registered apprenticeship programs to created nationally recognized certifications in effort to promote workforce development. The session was specifically designed to address the challenges facing aerospace, manufacturing and engineering industries to provide tailored options and resources through the Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Per the FDOE, registered apprenticeship programs enable employers to develop and apply industry standards to training programs for registered apprentices that can increase productivity and improve the quality of the workforce. Apprentices who complete registered apprenticeship programs are accepted by the industry as journey workers. By providing on-the-job training, related classroom instruction, and guaranteed wage structures, employers who sponsor apprentices provide incentives to attract and retain more highly qualified employees and improve productivity. Certifications earned through registered apprenticeship programs are recognized nationwide. Annual Apprenticeship Reports are available here.

“Apprenticeships give employers the opportunity to test employees and gets an employee an opp to see how they fit,” said Dave Murzin of First Place Partners.

As host of the event, Dr. Ed Meadows, President of Pensacola State College welcomed attendees and Dr. Kevin O’Farrell, Chancellor for Division of Career and Adult Education (FLDOE) kicked off the event. Visiting attendees were taken on a tour of the Port of Pensacola. State participants included Sen. Doug Broxson.

Discussion panelist were Sam Hold with City of Tallahassee, Marcelo Dossantos of FloridaMakes, Josh Colvin from Moss Solar, Bryan Kamm of Space Coast Consortium. Scott Ellsworth, Jobs for the Future, served as moderator.

Other presenters included:

  • Registered Apprenticeship Program Overview was presented by Kathryn Wheeler, Director of Apprenticeship at FLDOE.
  • CareerSource Florida, Susan Bosse, Dir. Of Business and Workforce Strategies, CareerSource, FL
  • Ready to Work, Tiffany Vause, Dir of Strategic Initiatives, Florida Ready to Work
  • Apprenticeship Advantage
  • Next Steps, Leisa Rasmussen, Apprenticeship Outreach Manager, FDLOE
  • Training with a Twist… presented by TransfrVR

Attendees at the apprenticeship event. Attendees at the apprenticeship event. Attendees at the apprenticeship event. Attendees at the apprenticeship event. Attendees at the apprenticeship event. Attendees at the apprenticeship event.

UWF Students Build Foilboard

UWF Students Build Foilboard

UWF Students Build Foilboard
By Oliver Watson, UWF Haas Center, BA Economics 2023

students assembling foilboard in 3D labUniversity of West Florida students have worked for the past couple of months in the Sea 3D lab to research the best method of designing and building a foilboard. Also known as a hydrofoil board, a foilboard is a surfboard with a hydrofoil that extends below the board into the water. The hydrofoil allows the board to rise over the surface of the water at various speeds. The research project is led by Nick Carssow, UWF engineering student and sailing enthusiast. His teammates include a sophomore engineering student Teaun Turner, and master’s student, Murilo Basso.

In an interview with Nick Carssow, he detailed the process to creating the foilboard. “The body of the board and the wings were carved out of a polyurethane foam using a CNC machine to create the shape. Then they wrapped the polyurethane foam in carbon fiber, added a layer of an epoxy resin to adhere the layers together. Once the resin is spread, a sheet of carbon fiber fabric is overlaid and spread evenly on top of the board and the process is repeated one more time.”

When asked about why Sea 3D chose to use carbon fiber instead of another material Carssow explained that “the hydrofoil board features an innovative carbon fiber design that provides a strong and lightweight structure to withstand the forces it will be under, while maintaining maximum maneuverability.” While observing the foilboard one will notice that the mast and the fuselage is crafted out of wood, not the polyurethane foam wrapped in carbon fiber. Carssow explained “using a wood core in the mast and fuselage is necessary to provide additional strength so it can bare the weight of the rider. The two pieces were crafted using pinewood and then covered in a fiberglass skin. At the end of the process all components are sanded down and polished to create a smooth surface that will effortlessly glide through the water.”

The UWF Sea 3D team hopes to work with other UWF Mechanical Engineering students on a foilboard capstone project next semester.

Sea3D is the industrial innovation arm of the UWF Haas Center. The group remains one of Florida’s leading sources for survey research, workforce assessment, and economic impact analysis. Sea3D serves as a hub for multidisciplinary research, invention, and discovery in the high-demand field of additive manufacturing, providing a space for real-world problems to be transformed into creative solutions. It is located inside the Museum of Commerce at 201 E. Zaragoza St. Housing state-of-the-art additive equipment, Sea3D provides a space for students, business leaders and community members to collaborate on the creation and printing of 3-D products. It also puts real-world science on display for the thousands of local K-12 students who visit the Museum of Commerce each year. The team filed their first patent application in 2022.

2022 Legislative Session

Joint Legislative Budget Commission

House Members

Alternating Chair: Representative Jay Trumbull (R) – Bay County (NWFMC)

Senate Members

Alternating Chair: Senator Kelli Stargel (R) – Lake & Polk Counties (MACF/MSCA)


Letter of Support Template



Re: Request for Support Southwest Florida Manufacturing Resiliency Program


I am writing to ask for your support of the Southwest Florida Manufacturing Resiliency Program (Local Support Grant Form #529), sponsored by Representative Tommy Gregory. The request for $825,000 in funding was submitted by FloridaMakes in partnership with the region’s manufacturers associations: the Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association (SAMA) and the Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association (SRMA), jointly serving Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Manatee, Lee, and Sarasota counties.

FloridaMakes is the representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) for the state of Florida. Analogous to the USDA investment in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), the federal MEP investment targets strengthening and advancing Florida’s manufacturing sector. As a public-private non-profit, the organization supports the competitiveness of Florida-based companies by making manufacturing technologies, processes, and services more accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturers through Florida.

This State’s investment will allow FloridaMakes, SRMA, and SAMA to deploy already-developed tools and services in the region to improve manufacturers resiliency in the wake of current and future supply chain disruptions. It will apply approximately 75 percent of the funds requested to directly assisting small-to-medium sized manufacturers to create and retain jobs, increase sales, and improve performance, productivity, and profitability – benefitting Florida’s economy.

Nationally recognized performance measures clearly indicate this program increases the competitiveness and profitability of Florida manufacturers. Your support for this program is important to Florida because:

  • For every dollar of federal investment in FY 2021, the MEP National Network generated $26.20 in new sales growth and $34.50 in new client investment. This translates into $14.4 billion in new and retained sales for U.S. manufacturers.
  • Since 2016, and through Q1 2022, the MEP National Network has independently surveyed 573 FloridaMakes clients who reported $2.6 billion in new sales growth, $687.7 million in new client investments, $213.5 million in cost savings, and 19,013 jobs created or retained. This translates to $3.5 billion in economic impact.
  • The results of this program would lead to an increase in projects mitigating risks and improve Florida’s manufacturing sector’s resiliency. Those would include cybersecurity assessments and implementations, assessment and mitigation of business continuity risks, workforce cross training and upskilling for resiliency, and operational training for improving manufacturing efficiencies to allow for expansion or diversification.

The funding of this initiative is important to create a prosperous future for Florida, its manufacturers, and for the current and future workforce of our region.




CLICK HERE to see the Southwest Florida Manufacturing Resiliency Pilot Program informational document.

Pegasus Laboratories announce major expansion in Pensacola

Pegasus Laboratories announce major expansion in Pensacola

The Pensacola-Escambia Promotion and Development Commission (PEDC) has been awarded a $2.5 million Triumph Grant to support the expansion of Pegasus Laboratories, a pharmaceutical drug research, development, and manufacturing company headquartered in Pensacola. The grant enabled PEDC to acquire an existing facility in the Ellyson Industrial Park that will be leased to Pegasus. Pegasus has operations adjacent to the property and this new facility will help expand their campus.

Pegasus Laboratories is a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization which produces animal health products and pharmaceuticals. It distributes these products under their PRN Pharmacal brand into the veterinary market. Pegasus Laboratories has been in operation in Pensacola for 37 years and currently employs 140 people. The company is a subsidiary of PBI-Gordon Companies, Inc.

With the expansion, Pegasus Laboratories plans to add several new product lines and increase its manufacturing capabilities. The project is expected to create 63 new laboratory and life-science manufacturing jobs over the next five years, resulting in an increased average annual wage which is 136% higher than the 2021 average wage in Escambia County.

“This major investment in our infrastructure will support the growth expectations we have for Pegasus and secure our ability to scale production and achieve our future goals,” said Steve Clifford, President and Chief Executive Officer of PBI-Gordon Companies, the parent company of Pegasus. “We’re proud to partner with PEDC, FloridaWest, and Triumph Gulf Coast to contribute to the economic vitality of the community.”

“This is a great example of how PEDC and FloridaWest were able to parlay grant money from Triumph Gulf Coast to expand an existing business and create more than sixty additional laboratory and life-science manufacturing jobs in the Pensacola area,” said Collier Merrill, Vice-Chair, Triumph Gulf Coast.

FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance has been working on this project with Pegasus Laboratories since June 2021 to assist in its expansion.

“We recognize that manufacturing is crucial to our economy,” said Scott Luth, FloridaWest CEO. “Our manufacturing companies promote research and development as well as creating high wage jobs that improve the quality of life throughout Escambia County. FloridaWest and PEDC had a pivotal role in working with Triumph Gulf Coast, PBI Gordon and Pegasus to both retain and help this innovative company continue to grow in our community.”

UWF boosts economic development in NWFL through Industry Resilience and Diversification Fund program

Pensacola, Fla. – The Industry Resilience and Diversification Fund program, administered by the University of West Florida, has completed its first year of operations after being relaunched in 2021. The program, managed by UWF’s Office of Research Administration and Engagement, remains open to new applicants.

Over the past year, the University has approved IRDF incentive funding for projects cumulatively projected to add 685 new jobs and resulted in more than $91 million in capital investment in Northwest Florida.

“The UWF mission states that we will contribute to the needs of professions and society,” said Dr. Matthew Schwartz, associate vice president of research administration. “In partnership with our core educational and professional development goals, the IRDF program allows UWF to directly contribute to the economic development of Northwest Florida.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the University worked together at the direction of the State Legislature to establish the $30 million program, originally called the Industry Recruitment, Retention and Expansion Fund, in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Approximately $10 million in funding remained last year when the University reopened the program under its current name.

The program’s goal is to encourage the creation of sustainable, high-paying jobs in diverse industries across the eight Northwest Florida counties whose economies and communities were affected most heavily by the oil spill. Those counties are Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla.

The IRDF program makes incentive awards of up to $2 million available to companies that relocate or expand in the eight counties disproportionately affected by the oil spill. The application process is competitive. Participating businesses must commit to creating at least 10 net, new jobs in one of the eight eligible counties and the proposed project must result in at least $1.50 in economic activity for every dollar of IRDF funding awarded. Additional requirements and considerations can be found on the IRDF website. Companies interested in participating in the program can apply through their local economic development office.

“The IRDF grant program is enhancing FloridaWest’s primary initiatives to attract and grow innovative companies,” said Danita Andrews, chief business development officer at FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, the regional economic development organization located in Pensacola. “Partnering with UWF to deliver this grant opportunity to competitive projects is making a positive difference in these important relocation and expansion decisions and ultimately helping to strengthen and grow our local and regional economy.”

“The IRDF program gives communities a very valuable economic development tool that helps diversify local economies,” said Becca Hardin, president of the Bay Area Economic Alliance in Bay County. “Tourism will always be important to the Panhandle of Florida. The IRDF can be used to help recruit companies, such as advanced manufacturing, distribution and back office/white collar jobs, so that communities are not solely dependent on the tourism industry.

“Through the support of the University of West Florida’s IRDF program, we have seen transformational project announcements occurring in the region,” Hardin said.

“The IRDF has given Santa Rosa County the strategic and tactical advantages we’ve needed to bring high-value employers to the table, as well as the flexibility necessary to close the deals,” said Shannon Ogletree, director of the Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office. “The result has been millions of dollars in new capital investment and hundreds of high-wage jobs for our people.”

The IRDF program will remain open to new applicants until all funds are awarded. For more information about the Industry Resilience and Diversification Fund, visit uwf.edu/irdf.

Lunch & Learn: Cybersecurity

Registration and Schedule:

Wednesday, June 19; 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Pensacola)

Thursday, July 18; 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Panama City)


Pensacola – Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center

Panama City – FSU Panama City