I attended the 18th annual Georgia Manufacturers of the Year luncheon last week in Atlanta. I was extended the invitation by Lori Durden, vice president for Economic Development at Ogeechee Technical College. The Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development are hosts for the event, which honors small, medium and large manufacturers throughout the state.
Georgia's technical colleges nominate manufacturers in each category, and it is a very big deal. This year, Viracon was nominated by OTC in the medium manufacturer category. Although Viracon did not win, the glass fabricator won the prestigious honor in 2005.
The award is based on multiple criteria, including economic impact on the community and surrounding area, corporate responsibility and community involvement programs, workforce excellence, and letters of support.
The winner in the small category was the Savannah division of Dirtt Environmental Solutions. The large category was won by Southwire based in Carrollton. The medium category was won by the Swainsboro division of the Nordson Corporation.
Nordson operates facilities in Georgia - a Swainsboro plant and one in Johns Creek. Each facility supports the company's adhesive dispensing systems segment, which manufactures precision equipment used in a wide variety of consumer packaging, nonwovens and general product assembly applications.
Nordson is the world leader in precision dispensing equipment for applying industrial liquid and powder coating, adhesives and sealants to numerous consumer and industrial products during manufacturing operations.
"We are extremely honored to accept this award," said Jim DeVries, Nordson's corporate vice president of Global Continuous Improvement. "Georgia is a great place to do business, and we've been operating in the state for more than 23 years. Due to the tremendous growth of our business, we opened a new expanded facility in Swainsboro last year, tripling our wor]kforce there to over 180 workers."
The video of the Nordson's Swainsboro division that was presented when the award was announced was very impressive, and reminded me just how important manufacturing is to the communities where these facilities operate. It is a must that these companies have a skilled workforce available to support their operations.
In fact, in the 2012 Georgia Manufacturing Survey, 24 percent of the respondents reported problems finding technically skilled workers and 16 percent reported problems finding workers with basic skills; these percentages are much greater than 2010.
It is clear that a skilled workforce is going to be the backbone of a healthy local economy as our country moves out of this recession and the economy enters into a mode of serious expansion.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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