Business leaders discuss how to attract skilled workforce

Published 11:14 pm Friday, April 6, 2018

During a roundtable discussion between business leaders on the new Georgia International Business Park last month, one of the major points of discussion was how local businesses can attract the skilled workforce needed in order to continue to thrive.

The need for skilled workers has been a driving factor in the establishment of THINC College and Career Academy and the partnership with West Georgia Technical College. However, the consensus at the discussion is there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to encourage skilled workers, especially younger workers, to live and work in Troup County.

“Really, there is a fight for talent, and I think what this helps us to do ultimately is recruit and bring more people to LaGrange because ultimately sustainability is about people,” said Philip Ivey, Milliken’s strategic sustainability leader. “It is about the environment. It is about products and having the opportunity to bring all of those together. Really, from a people standpoint, the opportunity to improve our kids’ education and be able to get the workforce and give them a hand up, not a hand out.”

Several of the industry leaders expressed hopes that creating good jobs and environmentally sustainable companies would be a large step toward attracting young, skilled workers.

“It is just our responsibility to do all actions to improve that [environmental sustainability], and of course it also gives us a way of differentiation,” said Rami Helminen, Sentury Tire executive vice president and CEO for Sentury Tire North America. “I am sure that is going to be an important thing when recruiting talent.”

Interface and The Ray have led the charge on environmentally sustainable solutions for the area, but increasing awareness of the businesses and innovation already underway in Troup County.

“Right now, in the little City of LaGrange, population 32,000, we have over $1.2 billion of capital projects under construction, which is pretty amazing in itself,” said Scott Malone, president of LaGrange’s Economic Development Authority.

“We have a little over $800 million in the pipeline, so it is pretty astounding for a community the size of ours what it’s been able to do. I think a bit part of that is about leadership.”

According to Malone, there are currently $600 million in business expansion projects underway in the community. Additionally, there are projects like trails and parks that are known to attract younger workers communities.