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Quick Start: A major key to Georgia’s manufacturing sector successes

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Quick Start is a customized program, with experts who are able to develop and implement innovative training programs for workers across a broad spectrum of applications from bio-engineering to advanced manufacturing, even food and beverage jobs.

“Quick Start is one of the major economic development incentives for attracting new jobs to Georgia,” said TCSG Commissioner Gretchen Corbin in a press release. Prior to assuming the reins of the TCSG, Corbin had been deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “In Georgia a huge percentage of the companies the State of Georgia is working with to grow, or locate, receive Quick Start Assistance.”

“It is a very important incentive, an important tool in the kit for us to market,” said Rome Floyd Chamber President Al Hodge. “It relates to the priority that companies are placing on education and the workforce. That’s so important to employers and site selection consultants and the rest of the network.”

“I’ll call it a secret weapon but it’s really not a secret, they keep getting all these wonderful accolades,” said Melinda Lemmon, director of the office of economic development for Cartersville and Bartow County. “Other states try to emulate what they do, but not nearly with the same success of the Georgia Quick Start program.”

Lemmon said the program is incredibly valuable not only for industrial recruitment but for retention and expansion of existing industries.

Quick Start is more than what the traditional Technical College System of Georgia would offer, such as forklift training or management programs where the curriculum is already designed. “This is customized,” Lemmon said. “The services are available at no cost to companies who are expanding or adding new jobs in Georgia.”

The September 2017 issue of the magazine reports Quick Start has handled more than 6,500 projects, training more than 1 million employees, and has been the “deciding factor” for many companies choosing Georgia.

“Our team works diligently to stay current with all the latest advanced manufacturing techniques, and approaches every project, large or small, with the same level of professionalism and quality,” said Jackie Rohosky, assistant commissioner for Economic Development Programs at TCSG and head of Quick Start in a press release. “And, it’s rewarding to see our efforts recognized.”

Commissioner Corbin said in the event a new company brings proprietary technology to the market, if the Quick Start program doesn’t have in-house expertise, they will contract with a company that can provide that expertise on the equipment, such as a specific manufacturer.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College President Pete McDonald said the re-training aspect of the program for existing industries’ expansion is a particularly critical component of the program. F&P Georgia has had four or five expansions since their start-up in 2002, and each of those times they have taken advantage of Quick Start, McDonald said.

“They may have brought in a different kind of technology and some of the existing employees had to be retrained to adapt to the new processes they are using.”

“We have an excellent track record with the customized employment through Quick Start and the technical college system,” Hodge said.

“Quick Start is what sealed the deal,” said Jim Hawk, president of Toyo Tire North America in White.

Asked if Quick Start had not been available would Rome and Floyd County have missed out on any prospects, Hodge said, “Perhaps. I do know that it certainly has been an important part of the package that is offered to companies.”

Corbin’s office in Atlanta provided data indicating that at least 18 companies in Floyd County have taken advantage of the Quick Start training program. F&P Georgia, Pirelli, Suzuki, Neaton and Kellogg’s have all used Quick Start training on more than one occasion.

In Bartow County, 32 companies have taken advantage of the program. Gerdau Ameristeel and Toyo Tire have used it on multiple occasions.

No one in the immediate mid-Coosa Valley area surrounding Rome has used the program more often that HON Industries in Cedartown. HON has taken advantage of Quick Start training 11 times.

Beyond the assistance in recruiting new companies, or facilitating the expansion of existing companies, Commissioner Corbin said when she talks with managers who used Quick Start, “They tell us they knew Quick Start was going to be important, but that they never could have guessed how important it was going to be. Most importantly, all of their employees were ready for the job beginning day one.”

In the same survey, Georgia was recognized by professional site locators as the best state in the country for doing business. It marks the fourth time Georgia has netted the ranking. The state was praised for having the most cooperative and responsive government, speed of permitting and the most professional statewide economic development organization.