Technology Drives Advanced Manufacturing in Gainesville Region

Learn about the unparalleled advantages that are encouraging advanced manufacturing investment and expansion in the Gainesville region.

By
Bill Lewis
On Friday, December 30, 2016 - 17:21
Gainesville, FL

With unparalleled advantages, including a skilled workforce that benefits from career and technical training programs at local schools, an inviting quality of life that makes it easy to recruit and retain employees, low costs and valuable opportunities for businesses to network with one another, the Gainesville area is the business address of choice for growing numbers of advanced manufacturers.

The sector includes more than 200 companies that can harness the technological capabilities in the region, access a ready and skilled workforce trained by Santa Fe Community College and tap into the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Advanced Manufacturing Council, which provides an industry-specific forum for manufacturers to stay current on new opportunities and take an active role in creating solutions.

“Being located in the Gainesville area provides many opportunities for collaboration amongst the manufacturers to work and grow together. It is encouraged to share information so that the manufacturers can learn new skills and apply best practices to increase the efficiency of the local supply chain,” says John Hartnett, III, vice president of Endoscopy Replacement Parts Inc.

The company operates a full-service, precision manufacturing facility where it makes aftermarket products for repairing endoscopes. From the Gainesville region, Endoscopy Replacement Parts serves a market of independent service organizations, surgery centers and hospitals in more than 50 countries.

International Investment

For Belgium-based SiVance LLC, the Gainesville area was the preferred location for its new, 11,000-square-foot research and development laboratory. The facility is located on the company’s R&D and manufacturing campus in Gainesville. The company is a subsidiary of Milliken & Co. The new facility will enhance SiVance’s ability to quickly develop and scale new silane and silicone technologies. The new lab is part of a planned series of investments enabling the company to better address current and future customer needs in target markets such as electronic semiconductors, contact lenses, coatings and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The lab will also enhance development of custom products.

“The new lab was designed from the ground up to support customer needs. It enables us to accelerate product and process development and scale up to manufacturing, strengthen collaboration with customers and take advantage of new market opportunities for chemistries that fit our expertise and capabilities,” says Saikat Joardar, SiVance vice president. Being located in Micanopy has a number of advantages for Goodwin Co., not the least of which is proximity to numerous rivers. The company recovers antique logs from the water and mills them into exquisite flooring. “Goodwin has experienced steady growth and success in Alachua County,” says Carol Goodwin, the company's president.

“The area’s favorable business climate coupled with its proximity to excellent educational opportunities, resources and recreation make it the perfect place to live and work.” The company, which employs 22 people, produces River-Recovered heart pine and heart cypress. Goodwin Co. broke ground on a new facility in late 2015 which will enable it to offer a variety of pre-finish and color options while providing acclimatized storage for engineered and factory finished stock. Other plusses of being located in the region are the resources at the University of Florida. “And, of course, the year-round beautiful weather is also another advantage,” Goodwin says.

Workforce Preparation

The region’s workforce of tomorrow is being trained at Santa Fe College, where more than 500 employer representatives serve on more than 100 advisory committees, providing input into curriculum, equipment and internship opportunities for students to gain real-world experience, making them better prepared employees.

Many of Santa Fe's classes are taught by workers from a variety of occupational classifications, giving students real-world interactions in the classroom and laboratories. Santa Fe College is the lead for middle school, high school and college career pathways agreements where students follow an education-to-career pathway. Santa Fe College has numerous agreements with secondary schools and other community colleges so students can earn college credit while mastering courses and achieving industry certifications.

This allows students to complete college degrees more quickly because they don't take redundant courses. It also saves them tuition. “High quality and relevant workforce training is critically dependent on partnerships with employers,” says John McNeely, associate vice president at the college.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Lewis is an award-winning business journalist whose work has appeared in publications across the United States.