DeFuniak Springs – The Triumph Gulf Coast Board moved $125 million of grant requests forward at its meeting on Tuesday. The Board has awarded over $425 million across the eight-county Triumph region since June 2018. The five grants approved Tuesday include transformational Research and Development (R&D) projects and Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry certifications focused on the region’s target industries and the construction trades. Students and adults participating in the CTE programs will gain industry certifications for today and tomorrow’s high wage jobs.
The Triumph Board voted to move ahead with The Florida State University’s (FSU) request for a $98,453,615 Triumph grant to establish the Institute for Strategic Partnerships, Innovation, Research & Education (InSPIRE), an applied research and workforce development arm in Panama City. InSPIRE’s mission will be to accelerate technology innovation, cultivate corporate investment, nurture the growth of new industries, and foster high-skill, high-wage employment opportunities establishing the region as the nation’s foremost hub for aerospace and advanced manufacturing, testing and evaluation (T&E), and research and technology development.
Triumph funds will be used for manufacturing and lab equipment, supplies, personnel and contracted services. Through strategic alliances with industry and the federal government, InSPIRE aims to anchor novel Research & Development (R&D) projects in the region, with a key emphasis on advanced manufacturing and aerospace technology. R&D initiatives will ranging from Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 (proof of concept) to TRL 7 (prototype demonstration in an operational environment reinforcing military bases and drive the emergence of new industrial sectors.
InSPIRE will build unique, innovative, and one-of-a-kind facilities for advanced applied R&D at scales that are crucial for industry – from small to large Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to the Department of Defense (DOD) with the ability to conduct proprietary, sensitive, and classified applied work with highly efficient turn-around times. Initial areas of focus include industrial scale, prototyping, cutting-edge advanced manufacturing and aerodynamic and hypersonic T&E activities.
InSPIRE will introduce new workforce training and education opportunities focused on advanced aerospace and manufacturing to produce the workforce required to attract and retain high-tech companies to the eight-county affected region. The InSPIRE Technology and Training Solutions Center will be unique to Northwest Florida (NWFL).
Triumph Gulf Coast approved the term sheet for the Pensacola-Escambia Promotion and Development Commission (PEDC)’s $6,000,000 request for construction funds for a facility to be used by Project Laser, LIFT Technologies, Inc (LIFT) a public-private-partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense, industry, and academia. The facility, to be constructed by Space Florida on the Pensacola State College campus, will house a new Manufacturing Center of Excellence.
Employing at least 36 people at an average wage of $113,000, LIFT will leverage at least $32 million in new DOD and Federal funding to target research and development priorities accelerating the region’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. The Pensacola facility will provide a range of services including advanced manufacturing R&D and foundational manufacturing training programs.
Triumph also approved a term sheet with Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) for a $923,745 grant to offer an NCCER Carpentry Program for inmates at the Century Correctional Institution in Escambia in partnership with Pensacola State College.
Grant funds will be used for instruction, supplies and certification fees resulting in 400 industry certifications. PRIDE Enterprises is a 501 (c) 3 Not-For-Profit corporation that manages correctional work programs in Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) Institutions with 42 years of manufacturing and inmate training experience. Graduates of the program will have the opportunity to be placed in jobs with commercial/residential builders, providing a much-needed infusion of skilled carpentry labor in the region.
The Santa Rosa County School Board’s request for a $9,000,000 Triumph grant to expand CTE curriculum through the creation of the Santa Rosa Center for Innovation was moved to agreement negotiations. Funds will be used to acquire and renovate a centrally located building in Milton, for CTE curriculum, materials, equipment and instructors for K- 12th grade students. Students will earn at least 9,788 industry certifications in areas that include coding, 3D printing, robotics, engineering, electronics, artificial intelligence, healthcare, agriculture, automotive, energy, and the construction/trades.
The Santa Rosa Center for Innovation curriculum will align with regional target industry needs and bridge skills gaps in emerging fields. As students gain proficiency in cutting edge technologies, they will be prepared to enter industries that are driving economic growth and innovation.
The Triumph Gulf Coast Board of Directors is appointed by the Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and presiding officers of the Legislature. The appointees to the Triumph Board are David Bear (Chair), Bryan Corr, Sr., Reynolds Henderson, David Humphreys, Collier Merrill Jay Trumbull, Sr., and Leslie Weiss. All meetings of the Board are public.