Business development / Manufacturing / Robotics / Workplace culture

Why Pittsburgh’s ARM Institute opened a Florida office

You might not know it, but "there's actually a very strong manufacturing presence" in the Sunshine State, per Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute's Suzy Teele.

At an ARM Institute gathering. (Photo courtesy of the ARM Institute)
Pittsburgh’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute has gained a new address in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The ARM Institute, HQ’d at Mill 19 in Hazelwood Green, is a research institute that aims to strengthen the US manufacturing industry via robotics-focused workforce development, and by convening universities, government entities and companies working in the space.

Chief Strategy Officer Suzy Teele told that since its founding in 2017, the plan has always been to act as a national force for manufacturing. As of this May, the ARM Institute counts a second office in the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Why the Sunshine State for a physical presence? It’s already known for, and growing its expertise in, both manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

“We tend to think about Florida as Mickey Mouse and beaches, but there’s actually a very strong manufacturing presence here,” Teele told “There’s an aggressive plan [from the Florida Chamber of Commerce] that the state of Florida has to be one of the top five manufacturing states by 2030.”

Suzy Teele. (Courtesy photo)

The ARM institute also plans to partner with local entities such as AmSkills Inc., a workforce training initiative designed to help disadvantaged communities get into the manufacturing field.

“They work with people that are hard to employ,” Teele said. “They may be single parents, they may be just released from jail, they may have some physical disabilities, and they train them to get entry-level jobs in manufacturing. And this is a program that we started to work with actually about six months after ARM started, so we’ve always been working in Florida.”

The difference now is that the Florida presence now has Teele and Arnie Kravitz, the ARM Institute’s chief innovation officer, to run it.

Of the ARM Institute’s 30 employees, 26 are based in Pittsburgh, but thanks to the org’s remote work policy, its employees can work from any of the states where the institute has a presence. How many Pittsburgh employees could end up in St. Petersburg depends on what other projects the org takes on in the area and what grants can be secured, Teele said.

ARM Institute leaders inside and outside of Pittsburgh are also excited about the anticipated Robotics Manufacturing Hub funded by $14.2 million in recent Build Back Better Regional Challenge funding. The project, currently in development stages, has two elements, as ARM Institute COO Jay Douglass told last month: a “de-risking” center for small manufacturers that allows them to try out robotics solutions, and a network of makerspaces around the Pittsburgh region.

As of late, Teele said, the ARM Institute has been purchasing equipment and hiring the team that will oversee the hub. She hopes the project will allow the ARM Institute to help the region become more self-sufficient.

“I think we all learned through COVID how important it is to do some manufacturing and more manufacturing in the United States,” Teele said. “Remember, back in the days when we couldn’t even get masks or hand sanitizer? That’s important for us to live healthy daily lives isn’t done in the United States.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute

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