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Posted October 26, 2017 | 10:23 AM

Made in Tampa Bay Local Job Creators on Display

Expo highlights Hillsborough County's effort to support manufacturing

A Hillsborough County company that makes soundproofing materials for commercial and residential purposes had a prime booth at the first Made in Tampa Bay Expo.

The company has customers all over the world, but, "We're trying to get more involved locally, and take advantage of our own backyard," said Jim Ashley, vice president for sales for Acoustiblok.

The Tampa-based company was among local enterprises at the recent Expo, staged by the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA), a member of the Hillsborough County-supported Manufacturing Alliance.

Doug Silva and Bob Anderson, recent graduates of Brewster Technical College in Tampa, stood at a display touting Brewster and its curriculum. "The main focus of the school is to get you a job," said Doug, who landed a position as a tool and die maker upon graduation. "When you start on the job, you know what you're doing."

Angie Fontes spoke with Expo attendees about Lysander's All Natural Food Products. The company sells meat rubs, seasonings, bean soups, and other products to grocery stores, restaurants, meat markets, and distributors in 49 states, and recently moved from Sanford to Hillsborough County. Coming to the Expo was a way for the company, recently acquired by East Tampa-based PACA Foods, to bolster its local profile.

More than two dozen area businesses and a half-dozen educational institutions greeted visitors in the gymnasium at Hillsborough Community College's campus on Dale Mabry Highway.

The Expo dovetailed nicely with the Manufacturing Alliance's duel goal of ensuring there is a talented pool of potential employees available for local companies, while providing training for people who want to learn new skills in pursuit of well-paying manufacturing jobs.

Hillsborough County supports the Manufacturing Alliance with equipment needed to teach those skills at a handful of local high schools and at HCC. It also funds a testing site for various manufacturing certifications, pays for internships, and backs a media campaign touting careers in manufacturing.

Photo information: Jim Ashley of Acoustiblok says the company hopes to improve its local profile.