As part of our celebration of Manufacturing Month, the ECoNA Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) team recently organized a tour of three local manufacturers for 17 juniors and seniors from Flagstaff and Coconino high schools to show the rewarding work – and excellent pay – available in this sector.
The Arizona Office of Economic Security projects that between 2022 and 2024, there will be an 8.2% increase in manufacturing jobs in Coconino, Navajo, and Yavapai counties. This equates to more than 100 new jobs.
“Our intent is to have more of these educational tours throughout the northern Arizona region,” said Cynthia Hudspeth, the newly named Director of Operations at ECoNA who attended the tours with the students. “The message is to show students the possible careers right here in their backyard and that they can work, live and stay in northern Arizona.”
The students visited Nestle Purina, W.L. Gore & Associates, and UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries, Inc. Mark Maciah and Alexis Knapp with the BR&E team also presented on manufacturing training opportunities available at Coconino Community College.
At Nestle Purina, the students learned that the Flagstaff facility offers internships for engineering disciplines and entry-level jobs from machine repair to assembly. One of the major focuses of the facility, they were told, was the company’s focus on sustainability through its recyclable packaging and the extensive quality assurance checks that are done to ensure the safety of its pet products.
During the W.L. Gore tour, the students were shown the advanced medical devices the company produces to address complex medical challenges. In addition to multiple engineering positions, the company also has many entry level positions that do not require a college degree and offers manufacturing apprenticeships in manufacturing.
UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries Inc., which opened its Flagstaff facility in 2021, provides fabrication for automotive components for electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Tesla and Lucid Motors. The company is strategically placed in Flagstaff for ease of distribution to Tesla manufacturing locations in Southern California and Austin, Texas.
As of August 2023, there were more than 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in the United States. We are excited to be sparking interest in this dynamic sector by introducing the next generation of workers to the exciting opportunities available in our region.