U.S. Congressman Drew Ferguson (left) participates in a tour of Southwire’s Carrollton Utility Products Plant (SCUPP) with Andy Wiseman (right), Southwire’s senior director and SCUPP plant manager, during his recent visit to Carroll County.
CARROLLTON, GA – U.S. Congressman Drew Ferguson, freshman representative for Georgia’s 3rd District, visited several Carroll County programs, businesses and community partners during a recent tour coordinated by officials at Carroll Tomorrow and Southwire.
Sites were selected to weave into Ferguson’s service on the Transportation and Infrastructure, and Education and Workforce Committees, in addition to an introduction to the leadership of Carroll County’s largest manufacturing employer, Southwire.
Ferguson and members of his staff toured Southwire’s corporate headquarters, Southwire’s Carrollton Utility Products Plant, Southwire’s 12 for Life facility, Carroll EMC and The Burson Center, Carroll Tomorrow’s business incubator.
“12 for Life is a great example of the innovative ways we can prepare our young people to join the 21st century workforce,” Ferguson said. “I commend Southwire for their work with Carrollton’s young people and hope it sets an example for how we can continue to develop similar programs. I will also continue to support Career Technical Education programs through my work as a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.”
Southwire made a commitment long ago, which required employees to have a high school diploma. In the early 2000s, the graduation rate in Carroll County was around 66 percent. With this statistic in mind, the company went to the Carroll County School System and began to develop ideas toward a collaboration.
These ideas paved the way for 12 for Life, a partnership between Southwire and the school system, inspiring at-risk students to earn wages by working in a Southwire manufacturing facility while completing high school. The program has graduated and changed the lives of approximately 2,000 students throughout Georgia and Alabama, some of whom continue to work at Southwire and some who have gone on to pursue collegiate education, military service or other occupations. In that same time, Carroll County’s graduation rates have improved to above the national average, now around 86 percent, helping sustain a larger potential workforce in the community.
“I am incredibly proud of the lives that have been impacted through 12 for Life,” said Rich Stinson, Southwire’s president and CEO. “We deeply value the partnership between Southwire and Carroll County Schools, and we welcome all state and local representatives to visit us and see how this program can be expanded to a national model.”
At The Burson Center, Andy Camp, Vice President of Economic Development for Carroll Tomorrow, and Lauren Holverson, Manager of The Burson Center, explained the services of the award-winning business incubation program. A recent initiative is the establishment of the European American business Incubator in cooperation with the European American Investment Council to host international business startup seeking a presence in Georgia.
Holverson also shared details of the technology makerspace, The Tinkers Box, which will be housed in The Burson Center. It is being funded through a federal grant and matching local dollars.
The group also visited Carroll EMC where a more comprehensive tour will be conducted for Ferguson later in the year. Also part of the visit, Ferguson awarded six World War II Army medals and U. S. flag to the family of a WWII veteran who was killed in a POW camp in Tokyo.