Business leaders from across the I-4 corridor gathered at Florida Polytechnic University on Wednesday, July 17, to share their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges they face at a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity roundtable discussion.
“One of the reasons Florida Poly was created was around economic opportunity,” said Dr. Randy K. Avent, University president. “In 2012 we were signed into existence and we opened in 2014 as a way to help grow high-tech, high-skill, and high-wage economy here in the state of Florida.”
Wednesday’s discussion included a wide variety of topics such as employee readiness, corporate taxes, cybersecurity, tourism, and economic growth.
Ken Lawson, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said these roundtable discussions are taking place throughout the state to learn directly from business leaders about what is happening within their communities.
Six Florida Poly students attended the roundtable event and had the opportunity to engage with the speakers and ask questions.
“It was interesting to learn different perspectives from different people in business and their situation, what they’re concerned about and how they expect to grow,” said Marck Cadet, a senior business analytics major from Haiti. “I learned the type of skills they are looking for and how I can manage myself to learn those skills, so when I get in the workforce, I’m ready to work.”
Taryn Jones, who is pursuing her master’s degree in engineering at Florida Poly, asked the state leaders to increase attention paid to exposing elementary and middle school students to different career paths.
“A lot of my schools did not have STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-type programs, so by the time I got to a high school that did, it was too late – I was a junior and my track was already musical theater. I went off to college knowing I always wanted to be in robotics but thinking I didn’t have any chance to be in any program,” the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, native said.
Lawson said he appreciated the students’ input.
“They were practical, insightful and I am very, very impressed with these students who come to this institution and are really going to gain STEM skills,” he said.
He said Florida Poly was chosen as the location for this discussion because of its innovative and thoughtful educational environment and its strategic location between the Florida cities of Tampa and Orlando.
“I thought the discussion was fantastic. I thought we received vibrant information about different business sectors and also learned more about how the University itself is engaged in helping these young people find their place in the new economy,” Lawson said.
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