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Strong Talent Pipeline One Reason Advanced Manufacturers are Locating in Polk County

October 29, 2023 News

Higher wage opportunities. Strong sector presence. Growing employment opportunities. These factors and many others continue retaining talent within Advanced Manufacturing.

With a talent pipeline supplied by a vareity of post-secondary institutions, Polk County is the perfect place to locate an advanced manufacturing facility, bolstered by a talent pipeline that both graduates students prepared to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and upskills those already in the workforce.

Manufacturing Talent Pipeline

Advanced manufacturing has a strong supply of talent available through Florida Polytechnic University. It is the state’s only public university dedicated to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees. The university sits in the heart of the Central Florida Innovation District, an area dedicated to the vision of the future. As that district grows, it will provide jobs for those graduating from Florida Poly, ready to use their degrees to further advance technology and manufacturing.  

But it’s not the only school guaranteeing Polk County has employees to fill advanced manufacturing jobs.  

Polk State College and its Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center work with industry partners to monitor the needs of advanced manufacturers, providing customized training as needed for employers. About 16,000 people are trained each year. 

Florida Southern College offers degrees that lead to employment in advanced manufacturing. But students get more than just a degree. Their Barney Barnett School of Business & Free Enterprise ensures students graduate with traits they’ve identified as important in the field. This includes analytical, critical-thinking, decision-making and communications skills. They’re taught in courses like Total Quality Management, Operations Management, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma. All of which lead to the Principles of Lean Manufacturing.    

Joining the colleges are four other institutions of higher education that also graduate students with skills needed for a high-tech world.

“Polk County doesn’t just pump out graduates. It ensures those attending classes at the colleges and universities here learn the basics in courses like statistics but can think outside the box, using their skills to further the advancement of science,” said Sean Malott, President & CEO for the Central Florida Development Council. “They are creative and innovative thinkers who can make a difference in the world.” 

But education isn’t the only factor in luring students here or graduating them. There are intangibles that often have just as much value.

Why Polk County

For instance, people are attracted to Polk County because of its  

  • Lack of state income tax 
  • Low sales and property tax rates 
  • Reasonable cost of living 
  • Job growth 
  • Wealth of activities, including nearby beaches, theme parks and local attractions 
  • Favorable weather 
  • Low crime rate. 

With all of those factors aligning, recent graduates know they can return to or move to Polk County. They can live in a location valued for its “this-is-home” feel at a low cost of living and potentially raise a family here. They know they can put their engineering degree to work at the SunTrax Test Facility or assist researchers at Florida Poly or its Advanced Mobility Institute. 

U.S. News & World Report just ranked Polk County No. 105 on its 2023-2024 Best Places to Live list, noting its hot job market, affordable housing, location and median age of 40. It also ranked it as the fourth fastest-growing metro area of the top 150. 

“Students trained in skills supporting manufacturing are finding success in Polk County,” said Sean Malott, Central Florida Development Council’s President and CEO. “Now, they understand the sense of community here; they see companies like Florida Can Manufacturing and Assure Infusions moving in, rising wages and competitive opportunities.” 

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