Spotlight On: Roberto Plazola, President, South Florida Manufacturers Association

Spotlight On: Roberto Plazola, President, South Florida Manufacturers Association

2022-10-17T12:33:36-04:00October 17th, 2022|Miami, Spotlight On|

2 min read October 2022 Manufacturers have a great impact on the South Florida economy. According to Roberto Plazola, president of the South Florida Manufacturers Association, its members contributed $324 million in new revenue for the region and created 2,000 new jobs.

What were the biggest highlights and achievements for SFMA in the past year?

We had a very successful year. We are a nonprofit member-based organization and our mission has been to help our local manufacturers succeed and to help bolster Florida’s GDP. We increased our membership base by 20% in the past year. Our economic impact is $324 million in new and retaining sales or revenue, $13.18 million in savings from different projects, $63.1 million in total investment and over 2,000 jobs created and retained. That was a very successful year.

What is the state of the manufacturing industry in South Florida?

It’s very strong. The state has around 27,000 registered manufacturers and in South Florida, there are around 6,000. So, we have a very large concentration of manufacturers. The industry is very strong and very diverse. The diversification ranges from high tech, aerospace, aviation, automotive, medical and health, construction, PPE, CNC, food and beverages, and vitamins supplements among many others.    

What is the impact of the SFMA on the manufacturing sector?

We generate a huge impact. We provide a full range of services to the manufacturers and serve as the one-stop shop for all their needs. If someone is going to start a manufacturing shop in South Florida, we help them from A to Z. From real estate location, permitting, financing, workforce to a full business plan implementation, we assist them in everything they need to establish the facility. We also partner with vetted third-party providers. We take that step while they focus on their core business. We also help them apply for applicable grants, and if they need job training, we create programs for that. We facilitate all these resources for them. 

What are the initiatives that encourage the development and use of local suppliers?  

After the pandemic and the supply chain crisis, we saw a huge increase in local suppliers. We foster B2B among our members and within the ecosystem. We have a platform, Connex, that is like a marketplace where all the members associated with different areas within the state can either help you with specific needs or provide you with materials. We also promote an honor system discount to foster B2B among our members. If you are a member of the association and receive services or products from another member, they would give you a discount. We promote B2B through industry events, members networking events, plant tours and educational webinars to all  manufacturers.

What is your view of the actual talent pool in South Florida?

The talent pool is a challenge in our region. Manufacturers are saying that there is a deficit in qualified talent. We’re shorthanded. Our manufacturers need qualified workers from basic floor or machine jobs to more technical and managerial positions. So that need is there. We work closely with the manufacturers and the education system so that we can help educators develop an appropriate curriculum. From K-12 to colleges and universities, we’re working very closely with them, locally in South Florida and statewide, to develop curriculums that meet the need for careers in our industry and to develop a new talent pipeline for future generations. We also work with the EDCs and non-profit organizations that also focus on workforce development. Another challenge is that people are taking other jobs and are moving out of the state because of economic factors. Miami, especially, has become expensive.

What is the biggest challenge that SFMA is facing? 

Our biggest challenge is to bring awareness to all manufacturers in the region of the benefits that SFMA provides. Our penetration is still small but we look forward to increasing that by 20% year over year. So, our main challenge is to make sure that we increase our market penetration and bring all that settled benefits to all those manufacturers, especially the small and medium enterprises. Of the 6,000 manufacturers in our region, I would say that 80% are small or medium enterprises. By doing so, we will have a greater impact on our local economy.

What are the SFMA’s top priorities?

Our top priority is bolstering our market penetration and providing services to our manufacturers, focusing on the small and medium companies. Another priority is to promote and make South Florida more attractive to existing and new enterprises.

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