Troup Works plan to focus on bridging gap between job growth and population growth

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A study last year showed a 13 percent gap between Troup County’s job growth and projected population growth in the next five years.

Business and community leaders launched a plan Monday to take on that problem before it becomes a reality. Troup Works, a strategic partnership between the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, and the Development Authority of LaGrange, West Point Development Authority, Troup County Development Authority and the Troup County Center for Strategic Planning, held a launch meeting Monday afternoon to discuss needs in Troup County and seek additional community input.

Many of the needs as far as workforce were determined by a study performed by Avalanche Consulting. The group determined that the greatest needs for Troup County as it grows are to attract talented workers to the area, train the existing workforce and retain talented employees already living and working in Troup County.

“We have talent gaps in our community,” said Loraine Allen, Troup Works co-chair. “We want to analyze that and be able to close those gaps with this effort. Growth is important in innovating talent … and creating the ecosystem for employers and workers to thrive. That is what this is all about.”

Troup Works hopes to use local ideas to create an environment where good workers want to live and work and businesses want to be. These goals go hand in hand since companies need a strong, well-trained workforce in order to survive.

“One of the main goals and objectives of Troup Works is to create an ecosystem that really balances our community and our business community so that we have some really good relationships, and we have a really strong business community and a very strong community,” Jason Ransbottom, Troup Works co-chair. “One example of that is, depending on what your position is in a company or what you do for that company, some folks may recognize that while you have great people, when you go to hire new people, it is a little tough to find good help.”

One part of the project will involve attracting people who are already trained in specific skillsets to the area to fill existing needs. 

“We want to attract talented individuals and families of a working age to the community,” said Eric Blackman of Emory of LaGrange. “We want to build a couple of strategies around that. We want to invest in a robust talent attraction campaign, and the second thing that I think is really important is increasing community pride and engagement through an internal marketing campaign.”

Blackman emphasized the role of Troup County citizens in creating that environment of engagement and community pride pointing out the large turnout to the Troup Works launch meeting as a good start. However, attracting existing talent is far from the group’s only priority. Speakers also emphasized that a well-trained workforce will be vital to the future of the community.

“When you take in my particular case a factory that has built now a little over two million cars in a short period of time — basically eight years — the accomplishments that those people have put together is all centered around the training aspect of what we can do with this workforce,” said Stuart Countess of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. “These three topics that we come up on here are things that we have seen and have been discussing throughout our state of Georgia.”

Troup Works plans to focus on unemployed and under employed people within the county, apprenticeship programs, the talent pipeline from schools to businesses and soft skills — such as interpersonal communication and timeliness. THINC College and Career Academy and partnerships with West Georgia Technical College are already playing a role in that talent pipeline from schools to businesses.

Leaders of Troup Works said that for the program to be considered a true success, Troup County, LaGrange, West Point, Hogansville and the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce will all need to work together to make sure that people want to continue to live and work in the community for years to come. They hope to encourage people to want to live in the area through quality of life improvements like improved transportation, housing and internet.

“The key areas that this community focuses on right now are broadband, access to broadband in our community, transportation and transportation can take on many different forms and formats,” said John Asbell of Georgia Power. “There is transporting workers to jobs. There are social needs for transportation there are tourism needs for transportation, so that is a broad umbrella that we see as a key livability focus. Lastly, (there is) housing. Focus on the housing with both existing housing and what we need for our current population and also the housing that we need to attract young millennials and employees for our business and industry.”

Ultimately, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce and Troup Works both recognize that it will take input from residents and businesses in the community in order to find a solution that will create the best work environment for everyone.

“(We want) active and engaged residents and employers in seven different work groups that are ready to work together to attract and train talent,” said Page Estes, president of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. “The key for us is to get into work groups — and they are not committees, they are work groups. We have specific recommendations that we are going to implement. The groups are going to determine the metrics of how we are going to measure that success, and we are going to move through in a very systematic way.”

To learn more about Troup Works or get involved, call the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce at (706) 884-8671 or stop by the office at 111 Bull Street.