By: Jennifer Shrader Staff writer
August 22, 2013
Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle promised to be a “partner and friend” to Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia on Wednesday, and officials with the manufacturer said they’d be needing a buddy in the capitol as the company continues to grow.
Randy Jackson, vice president of human resources and administration at Kia, said the West Point facility will need help with two major issues in the coming years: in the short-term, Georgia Department of Transportation is doing a study of transportation routes around the plant to improve logistics. Long-term, Jackson said the biggest concern is having a local workforce ready for the jobs Kia and its suppliers offer.
“In six, eight, or 10 years, we’re going to have to have a lot more workforce,” Jackson told Cagle.
The plant will need more workers in the mechanical, electrical and dye shop disciplines, where education currently is lagging, Jackson said.
Cagle praised the Georgia Quickstart program, which has offices at the Kia training center and is credited for helping get workers ready for Kia jobs.
“That’s been our ace in the hole,” he said.
Cagle also said he’s in full support of the proposed college and career academy for Troup County. Kia already has pledged money to get the program started.
“There are 27 of these academies across Georgia and making sure this one is funded at the state level is a priority of mine,” he said.
Cagle said the career academies see “significant increases” in graduation rates and graduates have higher earning potential because they come out with a certificate saying they are industry certified.
“It’s an opportunity for education and business to work hand in hand and put someone on a career path that can be life-changing,” he said.
Cagle said he’d happily help facilitate discussions between Kia and the DOT on the transportation study.
“We get nervous about our parts delivery,” Jackson told Cagle, explaining what prompted the DOT study.
Kia keeps about four hours worth of inventory on hand to make cars at the plant 24 hours a day – anything from a crash on Interstate 95 to weather can throw a kink in that plan. The state is looking at expanding routes around the plant that could be alternate supply routes other than interstate exits 2 and 6 on either side of the site.
It was the lieutenant governor’s second visit to the plant since it opened – his last visit was in 2010. Since his last visit, the plant has ramped up to three full shifts and its goal of 360,000 vehicles per year. The plant expects to exceed 360,000 this year.
“I’m proud to be here,” Cagle said. “It’s thrilling to see the plant at full capacity.”
Cagle said Kia is responsible for a resurgence of manufacturing in the state and that some industries thinking of moving to Georgia come to Kia to see what best practices the new plants can adapt.