Members of DeKalb Technical College's Economic Development division partnered with representatives from the chambers of commerce of Newton, Rockdale, DeKalb and Morgan counties, as well as the Department of Labor, to honor area nominees for Georgia's Manufacturer of the Year at a luncheon at the Covington campus Monday.
The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism developed the award as part of the governor's Manufacturing Appreciation Week - held this year April 9-13.
This is the eighth year DeKalb Tech has hosted the luncheon.
"We're very proud of our manufacturing partners and wanted to do something to let you know how important you are to the economy of the state of Georgia and our communities," said Robin Hoffman, president of DeKalb Technical College.
Two businesses located in Newton County were nominated for the award in the middle-sized category - Beaver Manufacturing and Saint-Gobain Desjonqueres.
Executives from both companies were awarded a plaque for their nomination.
Beaver Manufacturing makes rubber hose reinforcement yarn. Saint-Gobain Desjonqueres manufactures various items such as industrial glass, plastics and ceramics.
Hoffman explained nearly 10,000 manufacturers operate in the state - employing 10 percent of Georgia's workers with 450,000 jobs and generating more than $18 billion in wages.
She said MAW was designed to recognize the achievements of small, medium and large industries in the state, as well as inform students about careers in manufacturing and what the businesses mean to the communities in which they operate.
Richard Smith, DeKalb Tech's vice president of economic development programs, called the luncheon to order and explained why the school and state honored those invited.
"There's an old saying that the Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones," Smith said. "It ended because we wanted a better way of life."
Smith said industrial innovations such as those produced by the manufacturers being honored improved the quality of life.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D), from Georgia's 4th Congressional District, spoke at the luncheon about how the vitality of manufacturing, as well as partnerships between industries and colleges in workforce development programs, are integral to the country's national security and economic health.
"We can be attacked at any time with a terroristic act utilizing nuclear means which would be devastating to our economy and our way of life," Johnson said.
New technology and scientific research were means to circumvent disaster, according to Johnson.
He acknowledged the Earth has transitioned through periods of climate change throughout the centuries but also explained manufacturers needed to be aware of global warming and its effect on the economy and human life.
"It is still important for men to address the impact of our activities and how they are detrimental to our environment," Johnson said.
He said outsourcing, immigration, the rising cost of health care and vigorously growing Asian markets were also issues that manufacturers needed to discuss openly.
He said DeKalb Tech provided students with a resource that gives the quad-county area a competitive edge.
"When we invest in our human capital, that's step number one to a viable economy that can compete globally," Johnson said.
According to Johnson, manufacturers are the foundation of American employment and need to have generous support from the federal government.
"We have some difficult issues facing us," Johnson said, "and it's no doubt that technical and vocational education is more important than ever."