Air Products has laid off an estimated 30 full-time employees from its Port Manatee facility, a company spokesman confirmed Monday.
“We're disappointed we needed to take this action, but there's been a drop in worldwide orders for the LNG (liquified natural gas) equipment we manufacture there,” said Art George, the Air Products spokesman. Though he did not specify when, George said the company is confident it will hire at Port Manatee again.
Air Products supplies gases, chemicals and equipment to companies in the composite, agriculture, medical and energy industries, among others.
Air Products is one of 67 companies that have entered into economic development incentive agreements with Manatee County since the program began in 2009. George said the company met all previous job goals to receive incentive dollars, but “we will not meet the final target number this year.” The final goal was 200 jobs.
200 jobsrequirement to receive last installment of Manatee County economic development incentive funds
Approximately 140 employees still remain at Air Products’ Port Manatee plant.
The company’s Wilkes-Barre, Pa., facility had about 40 layoffs over the past six months, George said.
Manatee Technical College works with Air Products on training programs, but because the school’s welding program has a placement rate of about 95 percent, spokeswoman Maura Howl said they aren’t worried.
“The layoffs really won't affect our school because local demand for welders has been growing,” Howl said. “We continued to do training for Air Products this past school year for their current employees. But we didn't place any welding students with them this past year because they already met our quota.”
Pierce Manufacturing and Harmar Inc. are examples of other companies who have worked with MTC to place welders.
Anthony Gagliano, business and economic development director for job agency CareerSource Suncoast, said the news took him by surprise.
“We were talking about sending welders there a month or two ago,” Gagliano said. “In the two-county area, manufacturing is still showing strong. I’m showing 237 openings with manufacturers across the area.”
In the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan statistical area, the overall manufacturing industry has grown year-over-year by 3.7 percent, according to the latest unemployment numbers released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.