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TCC Center Offers "Turnkey Workforce" for Manufacturers

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Tallahassee, FL – Despite the news that Tallahassee manufacturer Elbit Systems is closing, the Capital City may be better able to attract a successor company. Tom Flanigan reports that's because of a new facility that just opened at Tallahassee Community College.

Housed in a former commercial warehouse on West Pensacola Street, TCC's Advanced Manufacturing Training Center has been up and running a little more than a month. The timing is fortunate, because one of Tallahassee's oldest high-tech manufacturers is shutting its doors. That will put nearly two-hundred people out-of-work and the training center's program manager, Bruce Batton, says his folks are standing by.

"I know we've heard of Elbit and what's going on there. But we're stepping up, whatever we can do to help train them to move into other sectors, or move up with higher qualifications."

And even though Elbit is going away, there are a surprising number of small manufacturers still in and around the Capital City. One of them is Telligent E-M-S. It's an electronics-maker in Havana and its president is Chris Eldred
"We do business with Fortune 500s, but also small companies as well. They design the products and we manufacturer them to their specifications, so we have robotic assembly - quite a bit of that - and there's a fair amount of very skilled manual labor."

Batton says that's exactly the kind of employee need his facility is designed to fill.

"You know, that's what we're here for, to support the community. The folks in the community as well as industry our main focus is always going to be the current industry in the area, but then if there's other industry looking at the area, you know we want to be part of that equation also."

Batton has been working with the local Economic Development Council as long as he's been in Tallahassee. He says he knows what brings a new company to a community. He also knows what doesn't.

"One of the key issues in several of the decisions not to come to Tallahassee was whether or not there was a skilled workforce available. And so I think we've closed that gap now. We take that excuse away."

Because, Batton says, his center can have a fully trained workforce ready to go by the time a new company lands in the area.

"We can definitely close that gap provide them with a real-time, quick response type of training to stand their companies up, or to move into the area with an already established company and then bring a workforce in and be productive very quickly."

On Wednesday, Batton hosted a luncheon meeting and facility tour for the TalTech Alliance. One of the local small manufacturers interested in what the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center has to offer was David Houston with Aero Associates.

"That's why I'm so interested in this place. I'm trying to learn if this is going to work for me, that I can send people here to get trained how to do this other mechanical stuff so there's someone else coming up behind me."

Of particular interest to Houston's firm, how-to training on solar power installation. Turns out the center offers that very training.

"Places like this teaching how to do it gosh, it's such a phenomenal opportunity. It just makes me happy."

The area's economic development people are hoping the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Tallahassee Community College makes many more businesses happy. Both those that are already here as well as those considering the area.