OFS to Expand Carrollton Plant and Create 149 Jobs

OFS Fitel, LLC, a manufacturer of optical fiber products, will create 200 jobs and invest $138.9 million in the expansion of both their Norcross and Carrollton facilities.

Approximately 149 of the 200 new jobs will be in Carrollton and the local investment is $50 million. The Carrollton plant is located on Columbia Drive.

“I think we as a county are extremely fortunate that OFS decided to expand here locally,” said Marty Smith, chairman of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. “It’s great to see one of our major local partners continue with their success and growth. We recognize the fact that Industries of this size and magnitude obviously have many choices and opportunity to expand worldwide. We sincerely appreciate that their choice was Carroll County.”

Lindsay Martin, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Existing Industry and Regional Recruitment, represented the Global Commerce division in collaboration with Partnership Gwinnett, Carroll Tomorrow, Georgia Power and Carroll EMC.

“We are fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with OFS that provides them assurances of a quality workforce and local partnerships that make doing business in Carroll County a win-win proposition,” said Daniel Jackson, president and CEO of Carroll Tomorrow. “As an industry leader with global expansion options, we are proud OFS made the decision to continue their investment in Carroll County.”

Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, congratulated both Carroll and Gwinnett County on the expansion. He said that OFS has been an valuable corporate citizen.

“It is always a win when an existing industry commits to an expansion, but what makes this announcement even more impactful that is that OFS is creating job opportunities at two facilities in the state,” said Wilson.

OFS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese parent company, Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. In 2017 Furukawa Electric announced plans to nearly double its 2016 optical fiber manufacturing capacity by 2019 and to increase its optical fiber cable manufacturing capacity. Japan is a leading investor nation in Georgia, ranking first among Georgia’s international investors based on total dollar value of investments, and third based on the total number of facilities.

Carroll County Receives National Recognition for Work-based Learning Programs

The Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning in Washington, D.C. recognized Carroll County and other community, business and educational leaders in apprenticeship and work-based learning at a luncheon hosted by Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national non-profit focused on bridging educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations.

The purpose of the event was to celebrate the history and boost the momentum of the expanding movement to support apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning as mainstream workforce development and talent solutions for American businesses.

Daniel Jackson, President/CEO of the Carroll County Chamber and Carroll Tomorrow, was on hand to accept the recognition on behalf of a cross-sector of business and educational partners throughout Carroll County who are investing resources to empower leadership and engage talent.

“These partners are working with 200 local employers in providing work-based learning opportunities for high school students, placing Carroll County as number one in student participation out of 159 counties in Georgia,” Jackson said. “One of these partners has successfully graduated over 2,000 at-risk students from high school over the last 11 years.”

According to the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning’s recognition, “The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow is an inspirational example of the local business community coming together with education and other stakeholders to connect students to real-world work experiences—at scale—to strengthen educational outcomes and ensuring a pipeline of educated and skilled workers for their community.”

Jackson pointed out that Carroll County was in good company for the honor. Among the 18 honorees were Amazon, CVS Health, The Hartford, North America’s Building Trades Unions, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship.

Jackson noted that in 2013, Carroll County was chosen by the Department of Education to be featured in an assessment as part of Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity Initiative.  While Harvard provided a very positive summary of workforce and education activity in Carroll County, Carroll Tomorrow leadership knew advances could be made.

A Blue Ribbon Task Force was created comprised of a select and diverse group of business leaders who designed a comprehensive strategic plan. The ultimate goal is to give every Carroll County student the opportunity to discover their natural gifts, skill sets, and interests to identify career pathways that will allow them to successfully pursue individual career goals.

“The vision is to create an environment that ensures every opportunity for a well-trained and highly qualified workforce,” Jackson said. “The activities that have resulted from these collaborations have led to the recognition Carroll County received from JFF.”

The JFF Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning provides expert guidance on how to identify and share effective approaches that work for companies, students, and workers. The Center also plays an important role in highlighting innovations that expand opportunities for people of color, women, opportunity youth, people with disabilities, and others who have traditionally been underrepresented in career advancement opportunities and well-paying jobs.

According to the Center, there is an unprecedented influx of federal funds and a renewed energy around expanding apprenticeship to new industries, occupations, and communities.  With better access to the right information and support, the Center’s vision is to drive this movement forward, improve people’s lives, strengthen the American workforce, and provide American businesses with the skilled workers they need to grow and prosper.



Daniel Jackson (right), President and CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow, accepts an award recognizing Carroll County’s efforts in work-based learning initiatives from Eric Seleznow, senior advisor at Jobs for the Future, national non-profit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations.

Janus International Group Receives Grant for Export Strategy

Janus International Group, LLC in Temple was chosen as a first-round winner of the annual Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, a grant program targeting local companies with innovative export strategies.

Twenty-eight companies from metro Atlanta were selected and will each receive a reimbursement grant of up to $5,000 to apply toward expenses related to building export capacity and activities.

Janus is a roll up door manufacturer specializing in custom self-storage solutions, beginning with the production of its industry-leading 3rd Generation industrial sheet roll-up doors and extending to facility components as well as self-sustaining hallway systems. Founded in 2002 by President and CEO David Curtis, the Janus International executive team collectively has more than 100 years of experience in the industry.

“Janus International is delighted to be recognized by the Atlanta MEC for not only our capacity to develop and manufacture innovative solutions for the self-storage and commercial/industrial markets, but also our purposeful strategies to expand the company’s footprint on a global scale,” said Curtis.  “With our well-defined long-term revenue objectives, we are positioned for continued growth at a local level as well as globally.”

Nearly 100 companies, ranging in size from pre-revenue startups to small and established medium-sized businesses, applied for the 28 available grants. The semi-finalists represent a wide array of industries, including traditional and advanced manufacturing, professional services, food and beverage, and technology companies.

“Georgia is a great place for innovative companies to prosper, and this competition allows companies to take advantage of our top-notch resources that strengthen their efforts across the globe,” said Mary Waters, Deputy Commissioner for International Trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Andy Camp, Vice President for Economic Development for Carroll Tomorrow, was complimentary of the grant program that spotlights innovation.

“The exporting challenge and grants help Metro Atlanta businesses grow their customers and we are pleased Janus continues to pursue markets around the world from their headquarters in Carroll County,” Camp said.

The Atlanta MEC will distribute a total of $200,000 over the course of the competition. This competition is one of the key components of the Atlanta Metro Export Plan (MEP), an initiative launched in June 2015 to stimulate economic growth in the region and create quality jobs through exports. The grants competition aims to encourage area companies to export and drive business growth by increasing international sales of local products and services.

“As our region works to further our export capacity and intensity, we want to provide concrete resources to companies that are striving to impact our growth,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “I’m eager to watch the Atlanta MEC’s semi-finalists continue to position metro Atlanta as a global competitor through the innovative products and services they are delivering to an international market.”

The Burson Center Wins International Recognition

The Burson Center, a mixed-use business incubator and resource center facilitating entrepreneurship, innovation, and business growth by assisting new ventures, was awarded the “Excellence in Business Support & Economic Development, USA” by Corporate LiveWire.

Corporate LiveWire, a weekly online newsletter, provides business professionals and individuals in the corporate sector with information on the latest news and developments from around the globe. The resource offers regular up-to-date content on an array of subject areas such as corporate transactions, international markets, business strategy and changes in legislation.

Over 100,000 professionals working across the various corporate industries, the general public and Corporate LiveWire’s subscriber base were invited to nominate associations, companies and individuals based on their achievements and strengths. Additionally Corporate Livewire’s research team put forward a selection of individuals who excelled within their sector.

The Burson Center was nominated by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), a global non-profit member network that serves a diverse group of 2,200+ entrepreneurship centers.

“We are pleased with this international recognition of The Burson Center’s reputation for launching successful companies and for the impact the Center has had on Carroll County’s economy,” said Donna Armstrong-Lackey, Senior Vice President of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow.

In citing The Burson Center, Corporate LiveWire noted that of the 124 businesses incubated in the last 10 years, more than 81 percent are still in operation today, having created 815 jobs and over $71 million in capital investment.

The Corporate LiveWire team especially admired the new venture in the shape of the Tinker’s Box, scheduled to open in early fall 2017. The makerspace will be available for use via membership only for inventors and businesses in the area which otherwise may not have access to cutting edge technology such as 3D printers.

“We couldn’t be more excited to offer the opportunity to create, invent, tinker, and commercialize new products in West Georgia,” said Lauren Holverson, Director of The Burson Center.  “This enables our team and community of makers to explore ideas with the potential to grow our economy. This Corporate LiveWire recognition further validates our support of entrepreneurs.”

In support of the award, Corporate LiveWire stated, “The panel of judges applauded The Burson Center in recognizing that the face of business in the 21st century is changing. As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is all the more vital that technology businesses are given the facilities they need to thrive, and we commend The Burson Center for facilitating these changes.”

For more information on incubation at The Burson Center, contact Holverson at lauren@carroll-ga.org or call 678-890-2340.

Carroll County Featured During National “Jobs for the Future” Focus

Carroll Tomorrow was invited by Washington DC-based Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations, to participate in a series of meetings discussing innovative apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives.

Donna Armstrong-Lackey, Senior Vice President of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow, and Bess Glanton, industrial engineer at Southwire and graduate of the Southwire Engineering Academy (SWEA), represented Carroll County, one of only three communities invited to participate.

Rutherford County, TN and the state of Indiana also took part in the meetings in Washington, as part of President Trump’s Workforce Development Week which included a roundtable with JFF officials, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Assistant Secretary Byron Ziedema and John Ladd, U.S. DOL director of newly-created Apprenticeship Programs.

The group was invited to U.S. DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta’s office and shared local initiatives with the Secretary. Armstrong-Lackey provided details of the Carrollton-Carroll County Education Collaborative (CCEC) P-16 process focused on the three cornerstones of ‘enroll, employ and enlist’, the Carroll County Chamber’s 8th Grade Career Expo, county and city schools’ CTAE work-based learning programs in over 200 businesses, and the Manufacturing Day experience for educators in local industry.

“We spoke at length with the Secretary’s Chief of Staff Wayne Palmer about our holistic approach locally, and they were very interested in visiting the community,” Armstrong-Lackey said.

Glanton shared details of the SWEA and Southwire’s 12 for Life program. SWEA is a cooperative internship program for 11th- and 12th-grade Carrollton High School STEM program students. SWEA promotes achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while enabling students to apply these disciplines in a real-world manufacturing setting. 12 for Life, a partnership between Southwire and Carroll County Schools, inspires at-risk students to earn wages by working in a Southwire manufacturing facility while completing high school.

As a result of the conversations with Acosta and his staff, Palmer shared Glanton’s story the next day at Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

“I was so proud to be representing Southwire as a testimony to the positive impact the company’s investments in work-based learning innovations have on our community’s students,” Glanton said. “Secretary Acosta was very intrigued and interested when I described to him Southwire’s 12 for Life and SWEA work based learning programs. My hope is that more students from across the country can benefit from similar programs with the help of the U.S. DOL and the example Southwire has created in Carroll County.”

Glanton graduated from Carrollton High School, obtained an industrial engineering degree at Auburn University and returned to her hometown to work at Southwire. “I had several job opportunities but chose Southwire because I already had a relationship with them that started during the Academy,” Glanton said. “I knew that I wanted to work where they were already invested in me – I wasn’t just another employee.”

Secretary Acosta shared that he is most concerned about streamlining service-delivery and eliminating duplicity between several federal programs, and he is working closely with the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate effort. He is planning a nation-wide tour highlighting Apprenticeship/WBL innovations and Armstrong-Lackey invited him to Carroll County to share all of our initiatives up close.

Carroll Tomorrow and the Carroll County Chamber have been working with JFF for more than five years since being nominated by the Georgia Department of Education to participate in the Harvard University Pathways for Prosperity initiative. JFF has provided support for such initiatives as the Chamber’s Workforce Education Blue Ribbon Task Force and the continuing work of the Workforce Education Committee, as well as the two-year-old CCEC.

In 2012, JFF visited and learned about the successful work-based learning programs at Carroll County School’s College and Career Academy and Carrollton High School, as well as 12 for Life. They continue to hold up Carroll County’s holistic approach to workforce education as a community model, and have regularly promoted Southwire’s 12 for Life and Engineering Academy as model programs for work-based learning.

“Many communities and agencies from around the country have been referred by JFF to learn from Southwire about their successful, ten-year-old 12 for Life program creating work-based learning opportunities for over 2,000 high school students,” Armstrong-Lackey said.

JFF recently announced the opening of the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-based Learning (WBL) http://center4apprenticeship.jff.org, providing resources and technical assistance to support talent development through business, education and community partnerships.

Photo: U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta’s Chief of Staff Wayne Palmer welcomed Bess Glanton (l), industrial engineer at Southwire, and Donna Armstrong-Lackey, Senior Vice President of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow, to his roundtable discussion on innovative apprenticeships and work-based initiatives held in Washington, D.C. last week.

Soft Landing at The Burson Center

When a company chooses to locate in Carroll County and has a need for a soft landing location, Carroll Tomorrow offers a unique opportunity.  The Burson Center, a mixed-use business incubator and resource center, provides offices, meeting and conference rooms plus a variety of services.

“Establishing a presence in a new community can be a significant challenge for any company,” said Andy Camp, Vice President of Economic Development at Carroll Tomorrow.  “By offering The Burson Center for soft landings, companies choosing Carroll County can quickly get to work renovating or constructing their facility from a local base of operations.”

Colorado Premium Foods is the latest company to utilize The Burson Center for a soft landing.  A manufacturer of premium protein products, Colorado Premium will create 190 jobs and invest $20 million in a Carroll County food processing plant by the end of 2018.

Among the company’s officials who located at The Burson Center as they awaited the completion of office space at their 159,000-square-foot building was Lori Blackmon, human resources manager.

“The facility and staff were beneficial in allowing Colorado Premium to have a successful startup,” Blackmon said. “ The staff’s encouragement, professionalism and resourcefulness were exemplary. Carrollton and Carroll County are very fortunate to have The Burson Center team driving business success.”

When Robin Miller was senior manager of administration for Yachiyo Manufacturing of America, she also led a team at The Burson Center prior to the opening of their plant.

“Simply put, Carroll County and the Carroll Tomorrow leadership collectively met all of our needs …close to our customer base, available workforce, available land, strong sense of community, incentives, soft landing, just the entire package,” Miller said.

Services are focus of a soft landing at The Burson Center.  A shared receptionist and print/copy center is on-site, and staff assists with identifying local resources needed by the individual projects.  Examples include the recruitment of a trained workforce, government permitting and taxation assistance, language interpretation/translation and cultural exchange.

Donna Armstrong-Lackey, Senior Vice President of Carroll Tomorrow, coordinates soft landings and Lauren Holverson, Director of the Burson Center, is on site to assist clients with their needs such as employee recruitment.

“Not only are we able to provide a larger conference room for recruitment fairs, but we also assist through our partnerships with the Department of Labor and Goodwill Career Center.  We want these new companies to easily find the employees they need to successfully grow in Carroll County,” Holverson said.

The Burson Center began development in 2004 through a partnership of several public and private agencies, under the direction of the Carroll County Economic Development Foundation, Carroll Tomorrow, a 501c3 economic development public-private partnership. The building is named for Dr. John Burson, a local physician and area philanthropist, who donated it to Carroll Tomorrow for the purpose of new business development and expansion. The Center opened for operation in July, 2006.

The center facilitates entrepreneurship, innovation, and business growth by assisting new ventures. It fosters an environment for planning, organizing, and expansion in addition to building a solid foundation while minimizing risk. The center provides business planning, expansion coaching, counseling, technical support, affordable office space, an entrepreneurial environment for clients, and more.

The Burson Center has incubated 130 businesses, creating more than 900 jobs and over $80 million in capital investment since opening in 2006. In addition to the companies that are in residence at The Burson Center, the Center’s staff, and resource partners are currently working with over 250 other businesses annually of varying sizes through the northwest Georgia region. The Center has hosted more than 20,000 visitors for over 3,100 seminars, expos, and programs.

For information concerning a soft landing at The Burson Center, contact Andy Camp at andy@carroll-ga.org or 678-890-2354, Donna Armstrong-Lackey at donna@carroll-ga.org or 678-890-2332, or Lauren Holverson at lauren@carroll-ga.org or 678-890-2340.

Colorado Premium, West Georgia Technical College and Georgia QuickStart Sign Training Agreement

Kevin LaFleur, owner and president of Colorado Premium, took part in an agreement signing between his company, West Georgia Technical College and Georgia Quick Start for specialized workforce training as the company plans to bring 190 new jobs to the area. Steve Daniel, president of WGTC, and Jackie Rohosky, Assistant Commissioner with Georgia Quick Start, were on hand to formalize the agreement for not only Quick Start training but ongoing training programs through WGTC as part of its mission to support the demands of industry with a technically skilled and educated workforce.

U.S. Congressman Ferguson Visits Carroll County Community Partners

U.S. Congressman Drew Ferguson, freshman representative for Georgia’s 3 rd District, visited several Carroll County programs, businesses and community partners during a recent tour coordinated by officials at Carroll Tomorrow and Southwire.

Sites were selected to weave into Ferguson’s service on the Transportation and Infrastructure, and Education and Workforce Committees, in addition to an introduction to the leadership of Carroll County’s largest manufacturing employer, Southwire.

Ferguson and members of his staff toured Southwire’s corporate headquarters, Southwire’s Carrollton Utility Products Plant, Southwire’s 12 for Life facility, Carroll EMC and The Burson Center, Carroll Tomorrow’s business incubator.

“12 for Life is a great example of the innovative ways we can prepare our young people to join the 21 st century workforce,” Ferguson said. “I commend Southwire for their work with Carrollton’s young people and hope it sets an example for how we can continue to develop similar programs. I will also continue to support Career Technical Education programs through my work as a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.”

Southwire made a commitment long ago, which required employees to have a high school diploma. In the early 2000s, the graduation rate in Carroll County was around 66 percent. With this statistic in mind, the company went to the Carroll County School System and began to develop ideas toward a collaboration.

These ideas paved the way for 12 for Life, a partnership between Southwire and the school system, inspiring at-risk students to earn wages by working in a Southwire manufacturing facility while completing high school. The program has graduated and changed the lives of approximately 2,000 students throughout Georgia and Alabama, some of whom continue to work at Southwire and some who have gone on to pursue collegiate education, military service or other occupations. In that same time, Carroll County’s graduation rates have improved to above the national average, now around 86 percent, helping sustain a larger potential workforce in the community.

“I am incredibly proud of the lives that have been impacted through 12 for Life,” said Rich Stinson, Southwire’s president and CEO. “We deeply value the partnership between Southwire and Carroll County Schools, and we welcome all state and local representatives to visit us and see how this program can be expanded to a national model.”

At The Burson Center, Andy Camp, Vice President of Economic Development for Carroll Tomorrow, and Lauren Holverson, Manager of The Burson Center, explained the services of the award-winning business incubation program. A recent initiative is the establishment of the European American business Incubator in cooperation with the European American Investment Council to host international business startup seeking a presence in Georgia.

Holverson also shared details of the technology makerspace, The Tinkers Box, which will be housed in The Burson Center. It is being funded through a federal grant and matching local dollars.

The group also visited Carroll EMC where a more comprehensive tour will be conducted for Ferguson later in the year. Also part of the visit, Ferguson awarded six World War II Army medals and U. S. flag to the family of a WWII veteran who was killed in a POW camp in Tokyo.

Carroll EMC supports Carroll Tomorrow

In recognition of the importance of economic development to the quality of life in Carroll County, Carroll EMC made a contribution to Carroll Tomorrow as part of their five-year commitment to Advantage Carroll 2020.  (Fourth from left) Loy Howard, President/CEO of Tanner Health System and co-chairman of Carroll Tomorrow, accepts the check from CEMC board member W.S. Harmon, who also sits on the Carroll Tomorrow board of directors.  Representing CEMC were (l-r) Jerome Johnston, COO, and board members Emmett Harrod and Eddie Gore.  Accepting the check on behalf of Carroll Tomorrow were (l-r) board members Jim Gill, Mary Covington, Ben Butler and Daniel Jackson, President/CEO of the Carroll County Chamber and Carroll Tomorrow.

Colorado Premium to Create 190 Jobs in Carroll County

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that Colorado Premium, a manufacturer of premium protein products, will create 190 jobs and invest $15 million in a Carroll County food processing plant by the end of 2018.

“Colorado Premium’s decision to establish a presence in Carroll County is a testament to Georgia’s commitment to providing a business-friendly environment and the resources necessary for economic growth in today’s market,” said Deal. “Georgia offers the freight and transportation network required to serve a broad, growing customer base. I am confident our strategic location will provide significant benefits for Colorado Premium as the company expands its presence throughout the southeast.”

The company supplies major consumer-ready meats to U.S. retailers and restaurant chains. Colorado Premium also co-packs specialty items for packing companies across the nation.

“We explored with various locations in the Southeast, the facility in Carrollton was selected due to the overwhelming welcome that we received from the Carroll County and State of Georgia business community,” said Kevin LaFleur, Colorado Premium owner and president. “We have been growing with our customers for several years and this facility will enable that growth and provide a better geographic shipping point for these customers.”

The company purchased an existing 130,000-square-foot building in Carroll County for the new processing facility.

“We are excited to begin the new year with this announcement,” said Daniel Jackson, president and CEO of Carroll Tomorrow. “As a family owned, highly successful and growing industry, Colorado Premium is a perfect fit for our community. We are so impressed with the owner and senior leadership team and we know that they will be a great asset to our community and a wonderful new corporate citizen.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Project Manager Brittany Holtzclaw represented the Global Commerce division throughout this project in partnership with Carroll Tomorrow and Georgia EMC.

“Colorado Premium’s relocation in Georgia validates many of the initiatives we are managing to help our existing industries remain as competitive as possible,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “This additional facility is not only a credit to our logistics system, but to our nationally recognized business climate as well.”

About Colorado Premium : Colorado Premium was founded in 1998 by Kevin LaFleur and Don Babcock and is headquartered in Greeley, Colorado. As a family-owned added-value manufacturer of premium protein products, Colorado Premium serves major U.S. retailers and restaurant chains, and co-packs specialty items for packers across the nation. A leader in processes, efficiency and products, Colorado Premium strives to be at the top in every area of the business, creating a careful balance among all the elements that are critical to successful meat production.