GE­OR­GIA LEAD­ERS PUT WORK­FORCE FIRST

In­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion & train­ing po­si­tion Ge­or­gia as the best state in the US for do­ing busi­ness

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As the eighth most pop­u­lous state in the coun­try, Ge­or­gia has long punched above its weight within the US econ­omy. There are very few Amer­i­cans who have never drunk a Coke, flown Delta, shopped at Home De­pot or sent a pack­age by UPS —all pri­vate en­ter­prises which call state cap­i­tal At­lanta home.

In re­cent years, th­ese home-grown icons of Amer­i­can cap­i­tal­ism have been joined by a mas­sive in­flux of high tech com­pa­nies from out­side the state. In the past year alone, ma­jor brands such as NCR, Ac­cen­ture, Honey­well and GE Dig­i­tal, have all re­lo­cated to or sig­nif­i­cantly ex­panded in Ge­or­gia. They are com­ing here not just to en­joy south­ern hos­pi­tal­ity and to be close to the world’s busiest air­port: above all, it is the size and qual­ity of Ge­or­gia’s young, di­verse and tal­ented work­force that is turn­ing the state into what CNBC rated this year as the nº 2 state of Amer­ica’s Top States for Busi­ness. Ac­cord­ing to spe­cial­ist pub­li­ca­tion Area De­vel­op­ment, Ge­or­gia has done even bet­ter, top­ping the do­ing busi­ness list for four con­sec­u­tive years.

Gover­nor Nathan Deal has no doubt that it is in­creased spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, while main­tain­ing triple-a credit rat­ings, that has put Ge­or­gia in such a priv­i­leged po­si­tion. “We are pre­par­ing a skilled tal­ent pool in Ge­or­gia ca­pa­ble of meet­ing the de­mands of em­ploy­ers for years to come in an ever-chang­ing mar­ket­place,” Deal says.

“Tal­ent is now the driv­ing is­sue,” says Chris Clark, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Ge­or­gia Cham­ber of Com­merce. “The com­mu­ni­ties that are go­ing to suc­ceed in the fu­ture are the com­mu­ni­ties that grow and at­tract tal­ent.”

In ad­di­tion to the skilled work­ers that emerge from uni­ver­si­ties such as Ge­or­gia Tech, Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity, the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia and Emory Univer­sity, the state has forged ma­jor part­ner­ships with tech­ni­cal col­leges to ex­pand the pro­vi­sion of train­ing for high-de­mand sec­tors. The jewel in the crown of th­ese ini­tia­tives is the award-win­ning Ge­or­gia Quick Start pro­gram. The old­est pro­gram of its kind in the US, Quick Start has so far up­dated the skill sets of more than one mil­lion em­ploy­ees in 6,500 projects in nu­mer­ous in­dus­tries. All train­ing is pro­vided at no charge by the Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Sys­tem of Ge­or­gia. Other state ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing Trade Five, the High De­mand Ca­reer Ini­tia­tive and the Hope Ca­reer Grant, are help­ing to in­crease the sup­ply of work­ers for strate­gic in­dus­tries such as in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. And as baby boomers re­tire, Ge­or­gia’s ed­u­ca­tional and train­ing in­sti­tu­tions also work closely with in­di­vid­ual com­pa­nies to pre­pare new gen­er­a­tions for ever-grow­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Work­force is a key fac­tor that is be­ing ad­dressed across the state,” says Rich Stinson, Pres­i­dent and CEO of elec­tri­cal wire and cable man­u­fac­turer South­wire. “As skilled work­ers age, we need to in­vest in ap­pren­tices and in the next gen­er­a­tion. At South­wire we are work­ing with West Ge­or­gia Tech­ni­cal School, the Univer­sity of West Ge­or­gia and with Ge­or­gia Tech on our own work­force de­vel­op­ment.”

“We are re­ally fo­cused on the long-term work­force,” says Pat Wil­son, Com­mis­sioner of the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment. “Our job is to make it as easy as pos­si­ble for the pri­vate sec­tor to con­tinue to grow and cre­ate jobs in Ge­or­gia for the next 20 years.”

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