TAMPA (FOX 13) - He's a leader in downtown Tampa's redevelopment and Tuesday, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik told 700 Hillsborough County Public School students he needs their help to continue his mission.
"We are facing a severe shortage of skilled construction workers here," he said.
Vinik and 40 Bay area businesses packed into Amalie Arena for a field trip for kids interested in skilled trade careers, specifically in the construction industry.
"We're going to give it our best shot to do a major transformation of this region, but it's not just me alone. It's the community. It's the politicians. It's all of you here who can be part of this," Vinik said.
Vinik and Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the promising future of construction in the Bay area, and the deficit of people prepared to do the work.
"Just in the city of Tampa alone last year, we issued $2.4 billion worth of construction permits," Buckhorn said.
Most of the kids invited were already taking trade-based classes at their high schools. Tuesday morning, they got to chat one-on-one about trade careers.
Organizers said the training for many of those careers is paid for. Companies often cover the costs of their apprentices going through trade school to ensure they have the best and the brightest when building their companies.
Hillsborough County Public Schools offers programs in engineering, welding, and construction technology available to students showing an interest in building and manufacturing.