Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Four Stops, Five Facts

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government

We were on the road at 6:20 yesterday morning with a jam-packed day!

First stop: West Point
Sean McMillan, UGA director of economic development, accompanied us to our first stop, Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia. Sean provided our group with information about the partnership among several state agencies - including QuickStart, Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Power - that was required to bring Kia to Georgia. This was a wonderful example of what can happen when collaboration is put to work.

Our visit began in the Kia training center with a welcome by Kia representatives, followed by a presentation about the company, vehicles and impact Kia has made on the region. The visit continued with an amazing tour of the manufacturing plant. We were able to see the processes used to assemble each of the vehicles the plant produces. What an impressive use of robotics and technology! Kia's workforce is a sterling example of the skills needed to attract today's manufacturing companies to Georgia.

Here's five fast facts about Kia:

  • Located in West Point, GA, Kia is the largest economic development project in recent years.
  • Kia produces 365,000 cars each year at the West Point facility.
  • Kia uses a "just in time" production system, meaning only four hours of inventory is in the plant at any given time.
  • Kia has its own medical facility staffed with physicians and medical staff for employees' benefit. The facility also has its own onsite emergency medical technician team.
  • Every vehicle is sold before Kia builds it.
And at the end of the tour...we each got a car! It was only a model car, but it was a car...and it was free! 

Next stop: Columbus
Our second stop for the day was at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Fort Benning. If you have never been to this attraction, you must put it on your bucket list! The museum walks you through 237 years of infantry history. The state-of-the-art facility is not your typical is a true experience! You can see an IMAX movie, spend time at the shooting range and participate in a virtual Humvee simulation all in one day. 

Here's five facts about Fort Benning and Columbus:
  • Columbus is home to the world's longest urban whitewater course. 
  • Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is the first female mayor of Columbus.
  • Fort Benning provides $110 million in salaries each month, making it a vital component of Columbus' economic engine.
  • Fort Benning is the largest simulation and paratrooper training installment in the world and trains 98,000 soldiers each year.
  • The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center houses a 27-ton tank that is more then 200,000 square feet. 
And last but not least, Americus and Tifton
Archway Professional Maggie Potter provided an excellent tour through Southwest Georgia. She shared the work being done with local communities to expand economic growth and showed us President Jimmy Carter's current home! 

In 2007, Americus suffered an EF-3 tornado. But to see the city today, you would never guess the community had suffered such a horrific experience. One of the greatest rebuild efforts is the new hospital and medical facility. Citizens of this region no longer have to travel to Albany or Columbus to receive medical attention. This is a major accomplishment! 

In Tifton, we attended a reception and dinner held in the beautiful home of former Regent Julie Hunt. Today, we will see UGA's Tifton campus and will travel on to Waycross.

And here's five fast facts about Americus and Tifton:
  • Americus leads the world in cotton production.
  • The historic Windsor Hotel in Americus is one of two historic hotels in Georgia listed on the National Register.
  • UGA's Tifton campus has a Vidalia onion lab.
  • The Archway Partnership in Americus is working on a project to study the feasibility of methane gas production from the local landfill. 
  • Americus was chosen as a City of Excellence by Georgia Magazine in 2000. 

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