Industry needs educated workforce
By Stephanie Johns
Bob Hughes, President of theMadison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, commended State 112 District Rep. Doug Holt and District 25 Senator Burt Jones (R) for the Georgia Power data center for Stanton Springs during the Hometown Connection meeting last Friday.
He also spoke about Caterpillar in the Athens-Clarke and Oconee county areas as well as Baxter International going in the Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton county areas.
Caterpillar will have 300 employees by the end of next year while Baxter will offer “a huge injection for our region.” He noted that the state’s training facility going in there will be “a huge shot in the arm” for other companies going in there as well.
“We look at things on a regional basis,” he said. “There’s economic stimulus beyond just property tax.”
Madison Councilman Michael Naples agreed, “Baxter is an example of how we’re in this together.”
Madison City Manager David Nunn said the municipalities and the county work well together.
“We feed off of each other’s successes,” he said. “I’m awfully proud of that.”
Morgan County Chairwoman Ellen Warren said this behavior is atypical in her experience.
“We’ve got good folks here,” she said.
Hughes said the Georgia Medical Center Authority in Augusta is looking to market the I-20 corridor.
He pointed out that Emory University in Atlanta is at one end of the corridor with the University of Georgia research facilities in Athens and Augusta Medical at the other end of the corridor.
Then there is Stanton Springs in Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties.
Hughes told Holt and Jones that they would appreciate “anything you can do to help us make that move forward.”
Morgan County Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett said career development is important to the community. He added that they are looking to add a career academy here and hope to attract other business to the county.
Hughes said the community is missing adult training to get people ready for the work of the future.
Warren agreed that technical training is important. She noted that they have 70 students in dual-enrollment with Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Madison.
Hughes added that they have applied for block grants in the past and been turned down.
“Morgan County’s a little unusual in that we have a few folks that have a lot of money,” he said. “When you look at the median income, that skews us and says all of a sudden that we’re over the limit.”
Madison Councilman Joe DiLetto urged Holt and Jones to visit a career academy if they have not done so.
“It’s incredible to see,” he said, adding that he sees it as the best way to spend money.
Naples said the county is in arrears for $13 million because of cuts to education.
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition