June 2023

On June 20, the Gainesville-Hall Development Authority awarded $15,000 to each company for their participation in the Apprenticeship Model (APP101). ElringKlinger, IMS Gear and Voyant Beauty are the most recent recipients of this apprenticeship reward. Each company has an existing employee that accepted the challenge of a 2-year Apprenticeships whereby the apprentice works full time with structured on-the-job training and while attending related technical training at Lanier Technical College. Upon completion these apprentices are promoted, are compensated for their increased value to the company, and receive US Department of Labor certification. The ARC grant, awarded through the Development Authority, applies to Industrial Maintenance, Machinist, and Quality Technician apprenticeships.

“We have seen the benefits of putting our employees through these apprenticeship programs, and with this funding we are grateful that we can start more,” said Tobias Martin, IMS Gear. “There is always the possibility that the people we put our efforts into may end up leaving us. At the end of the day though, we believe that if we show our employees we care about their growth within our company the idea of leaving won’t cross their minds.”

May 2023

On May 23, 2023, we celebrated graduates of the inaugural Supervisor and Industry Leadership (SAIL) class at Lanier Technical College! The graduates are as follows:

Tim McDonald, President, Lanier Technical College (pictured left) spoke at the graduation, heard from participants about their experience, and presented each their certificate. 

Graduates, Front (Left to Right)

  • Ciana Means, King’s Hawaiian Bakery, Hall County
  • Khaleel Alware, Specialty Appliances, Forsyth County
  • Brian Smith, ATEX, Hall County

Graduates, Back (Left to Right)

  • Cristina Rodriguez, ALBA Form Inc., Hall County
  • Jonathan Sullens, Cantrell- Gainco Group, Hall County
  • Joshua Nowak, Jtekt North America, Lumpkin County
  • William “Tony” Akright, ATEX, Hall County
  • Derick Story, Jtekt North America, Lumpkin County
  • Garrett Douthitt, Bio-Techne dba Atlanta Biologicals, Hall County

Shelley Logan and Greg Vitek, Business Partners, Workforce Strategies Group LLC (pictured right) instructed as subject-matter experts along with Janet Cantrell, Regional Human Resources Director, Sherwin-Williams (not pictured). The training is hosted by and located at Lanier Technical College. 

“Supervisors are the company to the employee on their team,” said Greg Vitek, Workforce Strategies Group LLC. “These supervisors are now more prepared to take on that role with confidence and leadership.”

The Georgia Mountains Works MFG Sector Employer Partnership designed the training to include competencies in  Problem Solving, Communicating for Results, Emotional Intelligence, Continuous Improvement, HR Do’s & Don’ts, Performance Management, Safety Focus, and Leading Meetings. Learning and knowing is more valuable than just a manual or multi-hour class. The graduates are more prepared because the training was 48 hours spread out over 12 weeks giving them ample opportunity to apply what they learned.

We loved getting the opportunity to share this knowledge with others in order to help build better workplace culture and communication skills. Congratulations to everyone! 

February 2023

Quality Tech APP101 – 1st Cohort Graduates

1st Cohort in a 2 Year USDOL Apprenticeship from 4 MFG Sector Employers representing 3 counties
in the Georgia Mountains Sector that each had a mentor, 4 mentors, now have 4 Graduates

On February 2, 2023, the first 4 graduated at USDOL Registered Quality Control Technicians:

  • Cristy Norris, Murray Plastics – Gainesville GA
  • Shaprelle Gunnells, IMS Gear – Gainesville GA
  • Bee Yang, Tsubaki-Nakashima – Cumming GA
  • Gaspar Pedro Gomez, Freudenberg NOK – Cleveland, GA

Each apprentice participated in 300 hours of instruction at Lanier Technical College. Each apprentice had a mentor at their company to walk through 4,000 hours of structured on-the-job training. Some of the competencies included QI Macros, Machine Tool Math, Continuous Improvement (5 Why, Flowchart, FMEA), Measurement (Calipers, CMM, GageRR), QC Techniques (Ppk-Cpk, SPC), Lean, and Safety.

Learning and applying is valuable and being able to communicate what you’ve learned with customers, fellow employees and upper management in a report or persuasive way is even more valuable. When the Georgia Mountains MFG Sector Employers designed the apprenticeship, they wisely included employability and communication skills in addition to QC specifics. The two-years culminated at graduation with the presentation of their capstone using the tools they learned and applied to a company-specific project and presented to company and college leadership.

December 2019

Funding Secured for Work Based Learning Initiative

December 23, 2019 – The Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority (GHCDA) was presented a check from the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund the Apprenticeship 101 program, a new initiative developed by the Greater Hall Chamber’s Workforce Development Task Force and Lanier Technical College.

Annaka Woodruff, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, stated “The Appalachian Regional Commission and the State of Georgia, under the direction of Governor Brian Kemp, are committed to empowering the citizens of Appalachia. This project touches the lives of employees and their families and can have a ripple effect across the economy of Hall County and beyond.”

Apprenticeship 101 supports small manufacturers in creating a skilled and competitive workforce.  Through paid apprenticeships, the program will address the increasing skills gap and grow a broader regional workforce.  Shelley Davis, former Chamber Vice President of Existing Industry, has formed a new company with Greg Vitek, former president of IMS Gear Georgia.  Workforce Strategies Group LLC will spearhead this effort as well as collaborate with students, educational professionals, communities and employers to realize a skilled workforce in the 13-county Northeast Georgia region. Career paths, technical dual enrollments, and Work Based Learning coupled with paid apprenticeships lead to high demand career opportunities.

October 2022

October 15, 2022 – The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation certifies the completion of the Talent Pipeline Managment Academy by Shelley Logan, Workforce Strategies Group LLC. Strategies completed included Employer Collaboration, Critical Job Demand, Align Job Requirements, Talent Supply Analyzation, Building Talent Supply Chains, and Resiliency Planning.

October 2022

MFG Employer Partnership Members pictured representing: Workforce Strategies Group LLC, Ranger Manufacturing, American Yazaki Corporation, Haering Precision USA, Automation Direct, WorkSource Georgia Mountains, ASI Southeast.
ASI-Southeast, the number one manufacturer of bathroom partitions in the world, hosted a tour for the Region 2 MFG Sector Employer Partnership in Stephens County. ASI has 400 employees in Georgia and 105 employees located at this Southeast HQ. They prioritize the Workforce Development Pipeline by employing 11 Work Based Learning (WBL) students, six apprentices, and offer their team members 40 hours each of Employee Development Training per year. These solutions answer problems like developing team member character, staffing second shift, and reducing the skills gap specifically in CNC, Robotics, and Maintenance. Manufacturing Manager Stephen Wallace shared his beliefs about the ASI team by saying “My job is providing an atmosphere comfortable enough for them to share their ideas and giving them the tools to make it happen.”

October 2022

Over 700 High School Students Participate in Manufacturing Day 2022 #MFGDay22

WorkSource Georgia Mountains (WSGM) celebrated National Manufacturing Day on October 6, 2022, to raise awareness about advanced manufacturing careers and prepare the next generation workforce for the future. In the Georgia Mountains region, 23 manufacturing employers offered tours during the month to over 700 students in the local school systems including Dawson, Forsyth, Hall, Lumpkin, Stephens, Union, Gainesville City, and Mountain Education School Systems.

ABB Motors and Mechanical Inc., Flowery Branch, GA – Electric Motors
Advanced Digital Cable, Blairsville, GA – Wires and Cabels
*ASI Southeast Inc, Eastanollee, GA – Commercial Partitions
*Barbe America, Flowery Branch, GA – Antiadhesives
Fox Factory, Gainesville, GA – Performance Defining Systems
GAF Materials Corp., Cumming, GA – Roofing Materials
Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network, Gainesville, GA – Poultry Related Diagnostics
Haering Precision USA, Lavonia, GA – Automotive Precision Parts
*Harris Products Group, Gainesville, GA – Gas Apparatuses
Hawg Halters, Dahlonega, GA – Motorcycle Parts and Accessories
IMS Gear Georgia Inc., Gainesville, GA – Gears, Housing and Assemblies
Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp, Gainesville, GA – Tractors and RTV’s
*LG-MRI, Alpharetta, GA – Outdoor Digital Displays
Mencom Corporation, Oakwood, GA – Electrical Connectors
*Patterson Pump, Toccoa, GA – Pumps
Performance Foodservice, Oakwood, GA – Food Distribution
*PPG Industries, Oakwood, GA – Latex Paint
*Siemens Automotive, Alpharetta, GA – Automotive
Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC, Alpharetta, GA – Polymers
Specialty Appliances, Cumming, GA – Orthodontic Laboratory
Steel Tech Industries LLC, Gainesville GA – Fabricated Structural Metal
StruXure Outdoors, Dahlonega, GA – Outdoor Products
Swagelok Georgia, Alpharetta, GA – Fluid Systems
Wahoo Docks, Dahlonega, GA – Aluminum Docks
ZF Gainesville LLC, Gainesville, GA – Automotive and Industrial

Manufacturing is #1 in Industrial Employment in the area with an average salary of over $55,000/year. The region’s high schools offer career pathways in Drafting & Design, Electrical, Logistics, Machine Operations, Manufacturing, Mechatronics, Metal Fabrication, Robotics, Technical Systems, Welding, and Engineering & Technology all of which can lead to careers in manufacturing.

Georgia Mountains Region:
MFG is #1 in Industry Employment (16.4%) (1Q22)
MFG $26.75 Average Hourly Wage (1Q22)
2.7% Unemployment (Aug 2022)

WSGM and Workforce Strategies Group, LLC, created the Manufacturing (MFG) Sector Strategy to collaborate with area stakeholders to align education and workforce training programs with the needs of manufacturing businesses. WSGM, under Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, administers the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds which encourages sector strategies and partnerships.

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WSGM and Workforce Strategies Group, LLC, created the Manufacturing (MFG) Sector Strategy to collaborate with area stakeholders to align education and workforce training programs with the needs of manufacturing businesses. WSGM, under Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, administers the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds which encourages sector strategies and partnerships.

WorkSource Georgia Mountains Region 2 includes the following counties: Banks, Dawson, Franklin, Forsyth, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White.

August 2022

MFG Employer Partnership Members pictured representing: Workforce Strategies Group LLC, Automation Direct, Forward Forsyth, Overdrive Logistics, Kings Hawaiian, IMS Gear, and WorkSource Georgia Mountains hosted by Cesar, Jeremy, and Todd of Tsubaki Nakashima.
Tsubaki-Nakashima (TN), located in Cumming, GA, hosted a tour for the Regional MFG Strategy Employer Partnership. Did you know that the average car has about 500 precision steel balls of various sizes? TN manufactures various sizes of precision steel balls that go in ball bearings. Our favorite part of the tour was the bounce test as a part of quality assurance that is simple, low-cost, and highly effective. The quality test was added as a part of the plant-wide Continuous Improvement efforts. TN is a founding member of the Region 2 MFG Sector Workforce Development Strategy and participates in the Quality Technician Apprenticeship (APP101).

August 2022

Pictured (L-R): Nikki Chandler, Patrick Larson, Annaka Woodruf, Matt Blanchard, Cory Addison, Gabe Bremmer, Shawn Kennedy, Ben Bailey, Jose Gonzalez, Dan Thornton, Janet Cantrell, Niki McPherson, Robert Hinson, and Greg Vitek.
APP101 Celebration at Sherwin Williams
Tuesday, August 23, 2022: Sherwin-Williams, located in Buford, Hall County, Georgia, is awarded ARC grant money for their participation in an Apprenticeship Model (APP101) supported locally and regionally for small manufacturers located in Hall County, Georgia. The accomplishments of three Sherwin-Williams Company – Atlanta DSC employees that were selected to become apprentices in Industrial Maintenance were celebrated by a partnership of community leaders. Each apprentice was an existing employee that accepted the apprenticeship position when they responded to company posted internal position openings. Upon completion in Spring 2023, they will be promoted to full time Maintenance Technicians. As a part of APP101, the apprentices have an in-house mentor that conducts their structured On the Job Learning (OJL) while they also attend 1-2 classes of Related Technical Instruction (RTI) per semester at Lanier Technical College (Lanier Tech). There is no cost to the students. During their OJL, the apprentices have replaced cables in a Sherwin Williams Distribution automated robot which relates to their classes on wiring. They also reported that being able to read schematics now helped during their lighting project. At the beginning, apprenticeships are cost heavy to companies that engage in the opportunity, but the company outlined significant savings and paybacks they have already realized with the apprentices just half-way through.

As a part of APP101, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded for 7 apprenticeships and 6 more are eligible next month. This includes apprentices from ALBAform, Bitzer, Elringklinger, Georgia Poultry Lab, Murray Plastics, Ranger Manufacturing, Sherwin Williams, and Voyant Beauty. The apprenticeships are in technical specialties of Industrial Maintenance, Machining and Quality Technicians. All these APP101 apprenticeships are 2 years in length, include a structured On the Job Learning (OJL) component with an assigned mentor, as well as Related Technical Instruction (RTI). All these apprenticeships are US Department of Labor Certified. There are currently 50 active 2-year apprenticeships in the WorkSource Georgia Mountains Region 2 which covers 13 counties, and all are supported by the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), more specifically by Lanier Tech and North Georgia Tech. This funding is part of an original ARC grant through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) awarded to the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority in the amount of $300,000 in December 2019. It is a partnership of the Authority, Lanier Technical College, WorkSource Georgia Mountains, and Workforce Strategies Group, LLC. The ARC grant funding opportunity for manufacturers starting apprenticeships concludes in 2023.

June 2022

Georgia Mountains Region 2 MFG Sector Strategy 2021-2022 YEAR END REPORT
Employers, economic developers, educators, and stakeholders in the 13-county Georgia Mountains region work collaboratively to align the region’s education and workforce training programs with the needs of manufacturing businesses. What we have accomplished this fiscal year:
• Boot Camps – 85% of graduates obtained employment in the MFG Sector
• Employability Skill Lesson Plans with local Videos and Industry Case Studies
• Be Pro Be Proud in 8 regional school systems for over 800 students
• Quality Tech Apprenticeships – 2nd Cohort started with higher participation
• Local Workforce Development Strategy with individual county teams
• Workforce Development newsletter – creation and distribution
• Participation in multiple Workforce Advisory Boards and Perkins V Sessions

May 2022

Be Pro Be Proud GA – The Region 2 MFG Sector Strategy was proud to fund the Be Pro Be Proud Career trailer at 8 high schools in the region to promote hands-on career and educational opportunities.

March 2022

MOCK INTERVIEWS – West Hall High School Mock Interview Team was cranking out some experience for the junior and senior career pathway completers today!

January 2022

MFG Career Pathway Poster Delivered – The Region 2 MFG Sector Workfoce Development Strategy Career Path Workgroup completed the MFG Career Pathway Poster and delivered to regional high schools.

June 2021

Silver Shovel Awarded to Shelley Logan, Business Partner, Workforce Strategies Group: The Greater Hall Chamber presented 2020-2021 Silver Shovel Awards at the Board of Directors Meeting on June 24. Silver Shovel Awards are given to Chamber volunteers who have worked hard for the Chamber and for business in Gainesville-Hall County. Silver Shovel Award Recipients (Front, L-R) Jordan Hussey, J’s Place Recovery Center; Sheri Millwood, Oakwood City Council; Shelley Logan, Workforce Strategies Group; Dr. Patrick Fulbright, UGA Small Business Development Center. (Middle, L-R) Loren Funk, Longstreet Clinic; Patrick Larson, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission; Vaughan Smith, Chattahoochee Country Club; Nick Bruner, Rushton. (Back, L-R) Terry Spicer, King’s Hawaiian; Casey Ryals, Hall County, Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance; Matt Waters, United Community Bank; Bill Hall, Murray Plastics, Inc.; Andrew Davenport, A Good Look Home Inspection, LLC; Dr. David Westfall, NGMC Graduate Medical Education; Not Pictured, Beth Downs, Northeast Georgia Health System.

June 2021

2020 Year In Review – Employers, economic developers, educators, and stakeholders in the 13-county Georgia Mountains region work collaboratively to align the region’s education and workforce training programs with the needs of manufacturing businesses. What we have accomplished this year.

February 2021

The “A-Z Career Ready List” has been published. Business Partner Greg Vitek is proud to Chair the Hall County Work Based Learning Advisory Committee of employers. Students and teachers will be able to actively use this new tool created by employers in addition to all the great employability skill work they are already implementing.

January 2021

Quality Tech Apprenticeship – 1st Day of class at Lanier Technical College. So many champions made this brand new USDOL certification possible. 2 year program, all employed in Manufacturing Careers in the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission’s WorkSource Region 2.

December 2020

National Association of Development Organizations 2020 Impact Award
APP101 was submitted for the award by the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission on behalf of partners in the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Lanier Technical College, WorkSource Georgia Mountains and Workforce Strategies Group LLC. APP101 creates apprenticeships for participants whose quality of life will be improved while also benefiting the small manufacturers for whom they work.

November 2020

Ammonia Refrigeration Academy – Recent Gainesville High School graduates completed Lanier Technical College’s five week boot-camp style class program providing training for careers in the poultry industry. Prior to entering the program, these students were not planning on furthering their education. Following graduation ceremony, seven area employers in the poultry industry held direct interviews making employment offers to the graduates. While this was a team effort, the success of the students and program would not have been possible without the GEORGIA POULTRY FEDERATION, Lanier Technical College, Natalie Smith/Gainesville High School, Workforce Strategies Group, and Worksource Georgia Mountains.

August 2020

Apprenticeship 101: Cristy has been promoted to Quality Manager since she began her Industrial Maintenance Apprenticeship. Murray Plastics and the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network, both in Gainesville, are the first two recipients of cost-reimbursement through the new Apprenticeship 101 program. The Appalachian Regional Commission committed $300,000 toward the pilot program to the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority to provide up to $15,000 of cost reimbursement to companies that sponsor a 2-year apprentice through one of the five programs at Lanier Technical College: Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics, General Machining, CNC Machining, Welder/Fabricator and Quality Technician. The funds can support up to 20 apprenticeships at Hall County companies. Pictured: Cristy Norris, APP101 Industrial Maintenance Apprentice; Bill Hall, CEO; and Danielle Perkins, COO, of Murray Plastics; Shelley Davis, Partner, Workforce Strategies Group; and Tim Evans, VP Economic Development, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

July 2020

March 2020

How businesses are helping middle schoolers choose career pathways by Kelsey Podo The Times Updated: Mar 10, 2020
How businesses are helping middle schoolers choose career pathways – Gainesville Times

January 2020

Employability Skills are the #1 need of all employers. Workforce Strategies Group LLC is certified to deliver Workplace Excellence training in multiple formats to potential and existing employees. Soft Skills include: Adapting, Communication, Customer Service, Dependability, Goal Setting, Presentation Skills, Perception and Respect, Workplace Diversity, and more.

December 2019

Funding Secured for Work Based Learning Initiative
Appalachian Regional Commission grant to establish Apprenticeship 101
Funding Secured for Work Based Learning Initiative – Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce (