West Georgia Tech hosts first annual Manufacturing Day

Published 9:45 am Friday, October 6, 2023

The inaugural West Georgia Manufacturing Day was held throughout the day on Thursday. The event was hosted at West Georgia Technical College and put on by the LaGrange Development Authority as a way to introduce young people to manufacturing career opportunities in Troup County and West Georgia.

Kelley Bush helped organize the trade-show-style event that was attended by hundreds of students from Troup County and beyond. Bush said the event has been a couple of years in the making.

The event was created in partnership with West Georgia Tech as a way to allow students to learn about local manufacturing and meet with companies in the West Georgia area.

Bush said they started planning the event in 2021 and began working with school systems to get connect students with local companies and provide hands-on interactive demos on manufacturing and trade technology. She said the biggest hurdle was coordinating transportation for the 1300-plus students that came through.

Students from the Troup, Harris, Meriwether and Heard School systems attended the Manufacturing Day, along with Lafayette Christian and homeschool groups.

A total of 21 manufacturers from the West Georgia Area sent representatives from an array of industries, ranging from automotive and parts manufacturing to textiles, firearms and home goods.

The companies participating in the event said it wasn’t really a recruiting or hiring event. It was just to let students know what opportunities are available to them when they graduate and put their names out.

Bush said one of the goals is to remove some of the stigmas of manufacturing.

“There’s some stigmas around manufacturing, that are sometimes handed down from generation to generation. Manufacturing today isn’t our grandparents’ manufacturing. So, we try to provide awareness with industry tours and work with industry partners to show them what manufacturing is. They’re high-paying jobs with a lot of advanced technology —a lot of robotics— and the only way to get that message is to have them experience it,” Bush said.

“Wherever it is they choose to work, I just want them to be successful and give them the tools to help them be successful,” Bush said. “These jobs are offered right now, by our manufacturers, and they are high-paying jobs with benefits.”

Of course, with every trade show, there was show swag. The companies set up booths with giveaways of candy, lanyards, pads & pens, and even sunglasses but the real motivator was the bingo cards the students filled out by visiting every manufacturer.

The students could then turn those cards in for a chance at a big prize including a PlayStation 5 or a new computer.

Bush said they plan to continue the Manufacturing Day as an annual event.

“We’ve already learned that the industry partners are thrilled. The students have had a great time at the West Georgia Technical College, so they’re very happy with it,” Bush said. “I think it was a win for everyone.”