Local school, large industries recognized by chamber
By Jennifer Shrader
A local private school and two large industries received recognition from the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning.
Lafayette Christian School took home the honor for large business of the year, with 95 employees.
The school grew from “humble beginnings” to a thriving business employing
95 people and generating a $2 million payroll, said Jason Ransbottom, vice chairman for Talent and Workforce Development on the chamber board.
“Last year, the organization invested $2.7 million in a new athletic complex and used all local contractors for the project,” he said. The school has added new programs, including those for children with autism. Employees also were given a pay increase in order to better afford health insurance options.
“This creative business approach and their dedication to the students and families they serve earned Lafayette Christian School the designation,” Ransbottom said.
The large business and manufacturer of the year award was shared by Duracell, which has been in business in LaGrange for 37 years, and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, here since 2006.
Ransbottom said Duracell has increased its volume by 10 percent over the previous year and has an economic impact of $160 million. The company requires its employees to volunteer time to local schools and other organizations.
“They are committed to Troup County,” Ransbottom said.
Kia was recognized for its quality and quantity, having celebrated the production of 2 million vehicles in 2016 and creating more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. The company also has contributed $6 million to workforce development at local schools and won J.D. Power’s Highest Ranked Brand in Initial Quality in 2016, one of the highest honors in the automotive industry.
“Quality, quantity and great corporate citizenship earned Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia the designation,” Ransbottom said.
Along with the award presentation, those attending the chamber breakfast heard from Roger Tutterow, professor of economics at Kennesaw State University and director of the Econometric Center at KSU College of Business.
“Thirty percent of employment here is tied to manufacturing,” Tutterow said. “I am an unapologetic bull for manufacturing making a comeback.”
This can still happen in spite of the economy, he said, because companies now are using uninterrupted, affordable sources of energy. Ironically, the low wages that drove manufacturing out of the U.S. also are becoming less of a factor.
“For two decades we’ve had increased trade,” he said. This has led to increased labor costs in China, which has helped level the playing field for wages.