Charlotte County Awarded Major Training Grant from State of Florida

December 28th, 2018

Governor Rick Scott’s office announced that Charlotte County will receive a second major grant in 2018 – a Florida Job Growth Grant Fund Workforce Training Grant. The $1.7 million grant from the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity will provide the capital required to create a venue at Punta Gorda Airport for the county and its educational partner, Charlotte Technical College, to provide training for one of the most desirable certifications in the aviation industry: Aviation Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics (A&P).

“The A&P Certification Course offered through Charlotte Technical College will qualify graduates to take written, oral and practical exams for an FAA mechanic license with airframe and powerplant ratings,” said Ken Doherty, chairman of the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners. “Graduates of the program will drive high-paying, high-skilled jobs to the county, fueling economic growth and opportunities in skilled manufacturing and maintenance.”

An FAA mechanic’s license is the aviation industry standard for technical expertise. In advanced manufacturing companies, A&P-trained mechanics are often viewed with the same regard that surgeons are among physicians. The curriculum will focus on aircraft structures, power plants, avionics, system design, testing and inspection. All students will receive hands-on experience with a variety of aircraft. Charlotte Technical College anticipates 50 students will be trained in its initial enrollment session, with that number increasing to 100 for the following session. The certification course is demanding, with 2,250 hours of instruction required through Charlotte Technical College.

“The A&P certification course will create a talent pool of skilled workers in the aircraft mechanics industry, which is both a target industry for the Charlotte County Economic Development Office and an industry that is experiencing a very serious shortage of qualified personnel,” added Commissioner Doherty. Program graduates may elect to continue their aviation career training through programs at Florida SouthWestern State College, which offers an Associate in Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Management, or Western Michigan University/Punta Gorda, which offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technical Operations.

Currently, Charlotte County is home to over a dozen companies in the aviation industry, including Southwest Florida Aviation; APG Avionics; Aviation Services PGD; Air Trek; Air Critical Care; LPC Aviation; Trudeau Warbird Enterprises; Air Cargo Carriers; Arcadia Aerospace; Aero Marine; Eastern Avionics; Air Ambulance Network; Punta Gorda Airport and Allegiant Airlines. Within a 50-mile radius of Charlotte County, nearly 150 firms are engaged in aviation and aerospace manufacturing and transportation.

The $1.7 million grant amount will be matched by donations received by Charlotte Technical College and other in-kind contributions within the county.

2018 has been a remarkable year for economic development efforts in Charlotte County. Among the highlights:

  • Governor Rick Scott announced an $800,000 Florida Job Growth Grant Fund Public Infrastructure Grant to help complete the $8 million Piper Road Extension Project, designed to drive growth near Punta Gorda Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park and create more than 1,400 new jobs.
  • On December 5th, groundbreaking was held for a new Amigo Pallets building. The 16,000 sq. ft. facility will support operations for Cheney Brothers, one of the largest food distributors in the Southeast. Cheney Brothers has created more than 500 new jobs locally.
  • Sunseeker Resort, the largest hotel-condo resort on the Gulf Coast, is coming to Charlotte County. This project represents an $450 million phase one investment from Allegiant Travel Company and will feature 783 harbor front resort units, unique bars, restaurants and cafes, and a mile-long boardwalk.
  • Babcock Ranch is drawing national attention as America’s first community fully powered by solar energy – a 450-acre solar field is already in place and initial homes are selling now. The 18,000-acre community will ultimately be home to over 50,000 new residents.
  • Charlotte County’s Murdock Village will host a spectacular water park covering 160 acres with 5 hotels, indoor skydiving and convention facilities. The other half of Murdock Village will be dedicated to 2,200 residential units in a master-planned community of single homes, villas, townhomes and apartments.
  • MetalCraft Marine, a Canadian company that manufactures commercial workboats, is in the process of opening a new facility within the Enterprise Charlotte Airport Park (ECAP).
  • Charlotte County’s Economic Development Office won numerous marketing and creative awards in 2018, earning recognition for its marketing campaign, “Your Business. Cleared for Takeoff” from the IEDC, SEDC and FEDC (respectively, the International Economic Development Council; Southern Economic Development Council; and Florida Economic Development Council).