During the 1980's, manufacturing companies on the First Coast faced numerous challenges. Confronted with a mayor and local media that was determined to run manufacturing out of Jacksonville, regardless of the economic costs, industry leaders decided that they needed to find a way to unite and protect their collective interests. They knew that by standing together the manufacturing industry could be a far stronger force than any individual company.
An initial organizational meeting was held in September of 1988 with the purpose of establishing an association dedicated to representing manufacturing's voice on the First Coast. After further meetings with leaders from city government and the Chamber of Commerce, a formal announcement launching the First Coast Manufacturers Association was made on February 27, 1989 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville. More than 100 people attended this press conference, including many of the city's top elected officials, business executives, and members of the media.
During the first few years, the association focused on getting organized and reaching out to the community. Initially, three committees were formed, they were: Membership Development, Program, and Government Relations. By the end of our first year, membership had grown to 32 manufacturers. Our successful “Keep Max in Jax” campaign, to prevent the closure of Maxwell House’s plant in Jacksonville, was among the first of many causes taken up by FCMA.
Following the first Annual Planning Session in 1990, a new Partner Membership was created for companies who provided services that supported manufacturing firms. This allowed FCMA to grow even faster, and by 1992 membership had reached 100 firms.
Over the years, FCMA has continued to grow and become even more effective as the voice of local manufacturing. Our commitment continues to be serving our members in the best, most effective and efficient manner possible.
Today, the First Coast Manufacturers Association is made up of nearly 300 companies. We provide workforce development training, foster networking and business relationships, and continue to be a respected voice in local, state and federal government. The collective strength of FCMA’s member companies is unmatched among other local associations. It has been an amazing more than 25 years, and we are looking forward to a bright future as we move forward. Thank you all for being a part of this incredible organization.