Continuing his push to increase jobs in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that Manatee Technical College was the first to receive funding from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, the state’s economic development program for public infrastructure and workforce development.
The grant will help MTC purchase high-tech equipment and expand the workforce training program and advanced manufacturing and production technology program. Last month, the School Board of Manatee County voted to accept the $201,500 in funding.
“Through this grant, we’re going to ensure that students, whether they come as a duel-enrolled high school student or a student that walked away from education and wanted to come back, that they have an opportunity to realize their American Dream,” Dr. Diana Greene, superintendent of the School District of Manatee County said.
MTC is the largest technical college in Florida based on number of programs, now with more than 50 for more than 4,000 students. It was chosen based on its “strong return on investment to the state and the regionally driven demand for a robust manufacturing workforce,” according to a news release.
“Our agency has worked diligently to evaluate more than 200 Florida Job Growth Grant Fund proposals to ensure that these funds are spent wisely. Manufacturing skills are needed throughout our state, but specifically in Manatee County where there are hundreds of manufacturers. Manatee Technical College has a successful existing program that will be enhanced by these funds. We look forward to the opportunities this funding will bring to the families of Manatee County,” Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said.
MTC Director Dr. Valerie Viands said the school is “thrilled” to be the first recipient of the funds.
Viands explained the funds will purchase a lot of accessories that make the drones and robotics that will allow students to do more with technology.
“This was something that was a demand from the community, the need for advancing and expanding manufacturing and adding technology to some of the basic skills in manufacturing. We’re here to meet the needs of the community,” Viands said.
Enrollment is currently open and classes will start Jan 29. Viands said they’re hoping to fill the class, up to 24 students.
Viands went on to credit the program instructor for hearing the needs of the community, industry and getting the equipment needed to develop MTC’s program.
“I want to make sure we invest these (tax) dollars so we can see more students have smile on their face because they walk out with a nice paying job when they finish these programs,” Scott said.
Prior to the grant funds announcement, Scott toured a portion of the schools manufacturing facilities and learned about the programs already in place at MTC.
Scott later said he was impressed by school officials who knew what jobs the students would get and how much they would earn in those jobs, saying that’s “exactly what students want to know.”
“What’s nice is to come here because you can see the unbelievable commitment to jobs,” Scott said.
The Growth Grant fund has a total of $85 million that will help, primarily through schools, the state secure more jobs, officials said.
Creating jobs has been a priority of Scott since he entered office. According to the governor’s office, Florida businesses have created nearly 1.5 million jobs across the state since December 2010.
“The biggest thing is every month, month in and month out, we’re generating jobs. we’re generating about a little less than 20,000 jobs a month. So we’ve got to continue to do everything we can to help everybody get the best job possible,” Scott said. “We have seen companies move here, we’ve seen companies expand here. It all starts with making sure that they have a workforce that they can fulfill customers needs.”