Manufacturing growing in central Florida

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Manufacturing jobs are making a comeback in central Florida.

On Thursday, plastics maker Amcor opened a new building after pouring $20 million into a new facility.

Other companies are expanding and even moving their operations here.

With a larger, 500,000-square-foot building, Amcor Rigid Plastics now has the ability to pump out more bottles that hold the drinks and pills you find on the shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies.

Gatorade bottles are among new containers they'll be making at the new facility. Those bottles used to be made in a different state, but with a bigger building the company said it is consolidating operations.

"The shipping offsets the labor and good workforces are hard to find," said Mike Schmitt, president of Amcor Rigid Plastics.

More companies are following Amcor's lead.

Metro Orlando's Economic Development Commission helped 40 manufacturers move or expand in central Florida within the last year, they said.

According to the group, that could mean as many as 4,000 new jobs over the next three years.

"I've spent the last 30 years in this business watching a lot of manufacturing going offshore, and now we're seeing a lot of, not all, but a lot of reshoring for a number of reasons," said Rick Weddle, president of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.

One of the main reasons is that labor isn't as cheap as it used to be overseas and shipping costs to bring products back here are getting higher, WFTV reporter Racquel Asa was told.

Weddle says the work climate in Florida makes the state attractive to manufacturers.

"We are a right-to-work state and an at-will state so we have a good labor climate," said Weddle.

The larger facility will allow Amcor to add nearly 30 new positions, which means by the end of the year, there will be 150 employees, Amcor officials said.