The CEP is in the international news!

Posted on: July 09, 2015

Felecia Judge Interviewed by 3d Printing France, Paris
Felecia Judge Reveals Insights on Business and Industry for 3d Printing Paris France | @FeleciaOcala

What do you do?

I am the Director of Business Retention for Primary Industries (manufacturing, logistics and distribution) for the CEP (Chamber & Economic Partnership). The CEP is the economic development organization for Ocala/Marion County, Florida. My job is to make sure our EXISTING businesses are aware of changes in the industry, are privy to available resources or financial incentives, and to advocate to our local municipalities on their behalf.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity in your industry?

The Ocala MSA is on the radar. Big time! At 5.6%, growth in manufacturing is the third highest in the state of Florida (CareerSource CLM). Our business ecosystem provides a robust manufacturing cluster and sits in the heart of the Florida High Tech Corridor. Additionally, the Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park is the first site in Florida to be designated as a CSX Select Site. This enhances our ability to be globally competitive for rail-served manufacturing and distribution projects (Kevin Sheilley, CEP President). To receive this designation, there is an extensive list of criteria which must be met. We are excited about the opportunity this alone brings, but there is much more in the pipeline!

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What impact will changes in your industry have on consumers? the world?

With 95% of the world’s consumers projected to live outside of U.S. borders by 2030, “Made in the USA” will prove to be exceptionally important to the growing population. American made means quality, and the world is hungry for it. As new technology, such as 3D design and printing, continue to evolve, American manufacturing will continue to grow as well. Manufacturing is no longer the sweat shop assembly lines some people imagine. It is high tech, automated, calculated, and most of all, a portable skill that pays on average 30% higher wages than other industries. Think about it….if a company can 3D PRINT a car chassis today, just imagine what we can do tomorrow!

What is your biggest goal right now?

My goal is to punctuate the importance of manufacturing with a global footprint. If a company currently sells their product or service domestically, they have a 99% likelihood of being successful at exporting! MOST exporters are small to medium sized businesses, so it’s not limited to large corporations. Export friendly businesses grow faster and pay, on average, higher wages. They are more resilient in economic downturns, and can often balance seasonal dips with opposite climates. There are so many resources to help a business learn more and expand their reach and customer base. The world is literally an open market!

What kind of support or types of people do you need to accelerate your success?

Simply the support of all of our partners in the private and public sector, our education partners, and especially our citizens. Manufacturing is a huge economic multiplier which puts money IN to our community by creating jobs both directly and indirectly. If we can communicate the undeniable value this industry provides on so many levels, the success will speak for itself through advancements in medical devices, aeronautics, food processing, and much much more!

What makes you or your work different from everybody else?

Passion! I love watching a business grow and I love finding ways to help them achieve their goals. The spotlight has generally been reserved for new businesses in a community. And we love that, too. But we also know that 80% of new jobs are created by existing businesses. Moreover, by just learning more about each business, we are able to help create new local customers for them – a business matchmaker of sorts!

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