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Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Georgia, Private-Government Alliances Produce Manufacturing Gains

Cooperation between Georgia manufacturers and government programs has spurred innovation in the Peach State.

Local manufacturing has played a prominent role in Georgia’s economic recovery, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports.

The AJC singles out how Georgia’s manufacturing base is small in size compared to other local industries yet makes a considerable impact on the state’s economy. Although manufacturing “accounts for barely 8 percent of the state’s jobs in the past two years, it has added more than 10,000 jobs,” and these jobs are generally high quality, with high pay and benefits. Additionally, manufacturing accounts for 98 percent of the state’s exports.

Profiling several local manufacturers and the state’s overall manufacturing climate, the AJC hits on several important qualities we’ve heard echoed across the country: In order to compete with Asia’s lower-cost labor and Europe’s advanced automation, companies are focusing on quality and innovation.

“Our uniqueness is in our design – it’s our intellectual property,” Brad Lurie, CEO of Bright Light Systems, a manufacturer of specialized lighting, told AJC. “Technology is a key factor in why I want to put a business here.”

The article also highlights private-sector cooperation with local research centers under the Georgia Department of Economic Development, such as the Center of Innovation for Manufacturing (CIM). CIM has worked with almost 2,000 Georgia manufacturers on development and investment in new technologies.

A big part of the draw for companies working in Georgia is the benefit of a relationship with Georgia Tech, the AJC article notes. Wireless sensor manufacturer New Frequency, looking for technology help, was courted by Virginia and Georgia, but the lower finances from the Peach State, coupled with Georgia Tech’s assistance, were more attractive.

“Georgia Tech has some expertise that we simply didn’t have,” New Frequency CEO Todd Moran said. “They know where things are going, they have a vision, they have experience with other projects. It is like having an IT staff that you didn’t have to pay for.”

Brian Lane


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