Workspace: First Coast Manufacturers Association president, state Rep. Lake Ray
Between becoming president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association and serving as a state representative in a year altered by the redistricting process, Lake Ray says this year has been the busiest of his life.
“It’s been a busy, busy year, a tiring year, a challenging year,” Ray said.
He’s not complaining a bit, though, and smiles when asked the question.
Ray became president of the local manufacturing association Oct. 1, 2011, and soon celebrates his first year.
In that year, he has met with the 300-plus members, consisting of about a 50 percent split of those in the industry and partner organizations, to assess their needs, work with their four committees, help with certifications and keep them informed, among other responsibilities.
He said the industry has changed, with many manufacturing businesses being smaller in scale with five to six employees relying on technology instead of the long-perceived large factories, hundreds of workers and heavy lifting.
It’s an industry hiring, too, as Ray said that Florida has about 10,000 manufacturing jobs in need of people but that a skilled workforce is lacking.
Part of his mission is to fill those jobs and his goal, through the association, is to work with young adults and teenagers still in school to educate them of the industry needs. Ray said the association is also working with local colleges and universities on tailored programs to help educate and fill those ranks.
“We have to encourage them about the opportunities out there,” he said.
Through the past few years of a down economy, the manufacturing industry has remained stable, he said. That should lead to greater opportunities when larger economic gains are made.
His other responsibility is to Jacksonville constituents as a state representative in a year that began in January instead of March because of the once-a-decade redistricting process. This time a year ago, he was gearing up for committee work, he said.
He has worked with others in advocating for Florida’s Freight Mobility and Trade Plan, traveling across the state to hear what cities need when transporting their goods and services.
Elected in 2008, Ray is on the Nov. 6 ballot against Green Party candidate Karen Morian. If elected again, he said he has plans for four pieces of legislation, two of which deal with transportation and another that would deal with natural gas conversion in automobiles.