When Air Products invited us to the opening of a new Equipment Test facility and manufacturing expansion at the company’s plant near Port Manatee last fall, we were excited to celebrate another milestone with the global manufacturing business. We also knew it was the start of a new chapter in the company’s efforts to recruit, train and retain employees with the right skills for advanced manufacturing.

Since helping to recruit Air Products to Manatee County in 2012, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) has continued to assist the company with workforce recruitment, employee training, governmental and community relationships, and more.

While the EDC has an aggressive outreach program to recruit businesses to Manatee County from across the nation and overseas, we know that established businesses are responsible for as much as 90 percent of job growth.

Air Products is a prime example. It is on a growth track and plans to hire up to 300 manufacturing production technicians by the end of 2020.

The term “manufacturing” can conjure images of smokestacks and unfavorable work conditions. That is ancient history. Today’s advanced-manufacturing technicians work in modern, high-tech environments.

Again, Air Products is an ideal example. The Port Manatee facility is as high-tech as it comes, providing a safe and comfortable environment where employees work to produce huge heat exchangers that convert natural gas to a liquid form for transportation.

The new equipment test facility will allow the company to test and collect data to develop designs for the next generation of innovative Air Products’ coil wound heat exchangers. Additionally, the expanded manufacturing space will allow Air Products to meet global demand by increasing the size and number of heat exchangers it builds at the Port Manatee location.

To build its workforce, Air Products is recruiting from technical colleges in the Tampa Bay region and is advertising from Tampa to Miami. These are well-paying careers with benefits, and the company is willing to train. Welding experience is an advantage but not essential; however, candidates should have mechanical skills. Interested candidates can learn more about job opportunities at the Palmetto facility at

Air Products isn’t alone in seeking employees with technical skills. We constantly hear from advanced-manufacturing businesses in the region that they need more employees who want to build careers in this high-tech field.

For individuals interested in a manufacturing career, a number of resources are available in Manatee County.

For training, Manatee Technical College and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, offer courses and programs related to manufacturing. To explore those opportunities at MTC, visit, and at SCF, contact Jennifer Boris, 941-363-7216.

CareerSource Suncoast works with manufacturers and other employers on their recruitment needs, so CareerSource often knows where the jobs are. Visit for information on career opportunities and assistance.

Advanced manufacturing is an exciting field for career-seekers. From Air Products to hundreds of other businesses in our region, manufacturers are looking for good candidates to hire. Will one of those be you?