Advanced manufacturing is tied to the economic development and long-term viability of communities in the Northwest Georgia region and beyond the state’s borders. Global competitiveness in the Northwest Georgia region relies heavily on the strength of the manufacturing sector. Since 2013, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC) and the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) have convened a diverse consortium of stakeholders in the region to understand industry needs and plan for the growth of advanced manufacturing through the state’s High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI). Governor Nathan Deal launched HDCI in 2017 to bring partners from the University System of Georgia (USG), the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), and local K-12 systems to hear directly from the private sector about their specific workforce needs (i.e., degrees/majors, certificates, courses, skillsets, etc.). With decision makers from each of these entities working together, the region will gain a clear picture of what businesses need, pair them with existing assets, and formulate a plan to tackle any gaps that may exist.
The goal of HDCI is that this employer-led partnership will enable an education system responsive to the needs of advanced manufacturers in the region, and create a pipeline of workforce talent ready to apply their knowledge and creativity in a variety of industries. In 2019, this partnership was renamed iWORKS (Igniting Workforce Opportunities and Reinforcing Knowledge and Skills). The iWORKS Advisory Board currently meets on a quarterly basis to discuss workforce initiatives in the region, specifically related to the advanced manufacturing and transportation and logistics sectors. The NWGRC includes a 15-county region, comprised of the following Georgia counties: Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield.