Finisar Corp. joined a host of manufacturing firms to provide financial support for area students involved in the Advanced Manufacturing Program. The company, which is among Texoma’s newest manufacturers, presented a $25,000 on Wednesday afternoon to help fund the program.


The AMP program has been expanding in recent years. It grew from a handful of students the first year to more than 80 students this year. The program is designed to provide college credit, as well as training and networking, for area high school students hoping to enter the manufacturing sector in the area.


Jeff Brown, vice president and general manager of Finisar’s Texas operations, presented the check to the program at a ceremony at the Workforce Solutions facility on Texoma Parkway.


“We’re very excited. It’s a good way for us to engage with the community. There’s not a lot of communities that have a program where you can attract students to this types of skilled jobs. What we are able to do is get this manufacturing training to students so when they get out of high school they can go right into a manufacturing job,” Brown said.


A large part of the program has been based on the declining available workforce due to retirement and other factors.


Finisar is currently in the process of opening its first production facility in the area. The company is opening a plant that will produce highly specialized semiconductors for high-tech companies, including Apple.


Twenty-three students from two area schools came to the presentation — 22 from Pottsboro High School and one from Sherman High School.


Brown said he is excited for the students in the program to get the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to get to work right out of high school.


“Finisar has been given a lot of support from the local community. Since I got here I have been looking for ways to give back to that. I look at this program — it’s a situation where these are students wanting to work for us when they finish the program,” Brown said. “A big part of what we do, not just what we make, but how we do our job — a lot of the equipment we use is very complex and requires a high level of expertise to use that equipment. We’re able to bring them in and hit the ground running with the computer skills they need to come into, not only our organization, but the other technology jobs in the area.”


Mark Anderson, chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, and plant manager for Emerson, said he believes Finisar is going to bring big changes not only to the area but the program itself.


“Finisar is a little bit different because they are in the semiconductor world. We have folks in the food world, and what I would call the industrial and assembly like what we do at Emerson, so they bring a different dynamic with their business. The biggest thing with Finisar is their commitment to the community. Jeff Brown has been great to work with. I feel he gets a sense of support from the other manufacturers in the community. They are going to bring new talent into the area,” Anderson said.


Stacey Jones, executive vice president of SEDCO and member of the Advance Manufacturing Consortium, said Finisar gave more than just money to the program.


“We always love when a company gives money. They also give support in other ways. Yesterday we had the AMP students meet their students, six of the mentors were from Finisar. They will contribute by allowing students to come into their facility. As we grow we are going to have to diversify what we are teaching and the programs we have to offer to the students, this may be a catalyst to that,” Jones said.