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Manufacturing JOBS touted by Gulf Power CEO Stan Connally

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Manufacturing JOBS touted by Gulf Power CEO Stan Connally
  • Manufacturing jobs, expected to increase greatly soon in Northwest Florida, will help diversify Florida’s economy, Gulf Power CEO Stan Connally told a group of businesspeople and government officials in Marianna Friday. The gathering of about 150 took place at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Power Lunch for July. The audience met Chamber President Jeff Massey’s goal at the new Rivertown Community Church auditorium, the second chamber event held there in as many months.
  • Connally has been CEO and president of Gulf Power since July 2012. At his headquarters in Pensacola he oversees 1,400 employees at the investor-owned utility that supplies power to millions. Gulf Power is a subsidiary of the Southern Company (NYSE $44.85 on 7/21/14) based in Atlanta. Connally has been with Southern since 1989.
  • “I believe manufacturing is a huge area for job growth in Northwest Florida,” he said. “But a lot of work in that direction will be necessary.” He highly praised the industrial site-certification efforts being led locally, in part, by the Jackson County Economic Council’s Bill Stanton. Stanton introduced Connally Friday as a “young man on the move.”
  • Connally also said that Gulf Power is assisting in the establishment of six “manufacturing academies” in the Panhandle for the training of workers in specialized jobs to be required by manufacturing. After the Friday meeting, Chipola College President Jason Hurst explained that the academies would be a system of curriculums established within high schools and colleges such as Chipola. Areas of specialized instruction would include courses like advanced welding that began recently at Chipola. Jackson County has two sites currently under preparation for “site-certification”--one in Campbellton off Hwy 2 and US 231 and one on the Old Spanish Trail between Grand Ridge and Marianna. When the sites are shovel-ready for industry, (for example, auto making) they will be “certified” and that could make the difference in a company’s location decision.
  • Connally said we are should be pleased that bed tax collections that are “up,” but he explained that Northwest Florida really needs more “diversification” and warned against “complacency with existing tourist and agriculture jobs. There are 5,000 new jobs projected in manufacturing in Northwest Florida in the next five years and I know there are up to 63,000 jobs in tourism, but tourism jobs are seasonal and pay an average of $20,000 yearly; manufacturing jobs are permanent and pay an average of $60,000. Also, while I greatly support going to college, everyone who wishes to should attend, college degrees often are overemphasized. Most manufacturing jobs do not require four-year degrees,” Connally added.
  • “Gulf Power’s footprint in Jackson County is changing,” Connally said in conclusion. “The Herbert Scholz Generating Plant in Sneads is closing next year.” But he agreed with Massey and the Jackson County Chamber’s Homer Hirt, both of whom spoke in favor of downplaying county borders. “After all, Gulf Power was founded in Chipley in 1926,” Connally said. “That’s our home, right next door. And if Jackson County gets an industry, it’s good for Washington County too.”
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