Dalton to host manufacturing summit

Dalton to host manufacturing summit

March 23rd, 2011 by Mariann Martin in Business Around the Region

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves speaks at a news conference to promote the "We Can Make it in America" manufacturing summit. Behind him, from left, are Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce; Don Cope, president and CEO of Dalton Utilities; and Dalton Mayor David Pennington. Staff Photo by Mariann Martin/Chattanooga Times Free Press

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves speaks at a news...


What: Manufacturing Summit

Where: Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center

When: May 19, 1-6 p.m.

Tickets: Free admission. Space is limited to the first 1,000 people who register at www.mfg2011summit.com no later than May 6.

Speakers: Steve Moore, Wall Street Journal; Tom Fanning, CEO and chairman of Southern Company; Bud Peterson, president of Georgia Tech; David Pennington, Dalton mayor; Tom Graves, U.S. Rep. of the Georgia 9th District; Don Cope, president of Dalton Utilities; Paul Bower, COO of Georgia Power; Norman G. Holmes, president of Southern Natural Gas; and Robert P. Johnston, CEO of MEAG Power. Additional speakers will be announced when confirmed.

Sponsored by: The City of Dalton, Grow Greater Dalton, Graves, The Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce, Dalton Utilities, The Carpet and Rug Institute and The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information go to www.mfg2011summit.com

DALTON, Ga. - A national manufacturing summit with the slogan "We Can Make it in America" scheduled to be held in Dalton this spring will focus on the need to strengthen and increase the manufacturing sector in America, according to leaders who gathered to announce the summit.

"If you don't make it or grow it or dig it out of the ground, you've based your economy on shifting sands," Dalton Mayor David Pennington said during a news conference at J & J Industries on Tuesday morning.

Pennington said he has worried for years that America's shift to a service industry will cost the country jobs. The slow economic recovery and continued high unemployment is proof of that, he said.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of manufacturing jobs in metropolitan Dalton fell by 10,000.

But Pennington said the robust manufacturing sectors in Germany and Japan show that high-wage countries can compete in a global market, Pennington said.

"It's not all about cheap labor," Pennington said. "The answer is training for advanced technology manufacturing jobs and putting the right infrastructure in place."

The summit is open to senior-level manufacturing executives and will feature speakers from various backgrounds. Most of the confirmed speakers are local businessmen. But Brian Anderson, president of the Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce, said sponsors are working to bring in national manufacturing and business leaders as well.

U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., said the focus of the summit is to find ways to grow national manufacturing and create more jobs.

"The No. 1 issue facing us is jobs - we need to think about the quickest way to recapture those jobs," Graves said. "Manufacturing facilities have the capabilities ready to grow. They need consistency in the market- place and an understanding of the playing field."

Manufacturers need the government to get out of the way and an environment with fewer regulations and better energy policies, Graves said.

Whitfield County had an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent in January, the latest figures available. Hamilton County's unemployment for January was 8.7 percent.

In addition to Georgia agencies, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce also will participate in the summit.

"The issues we are looking at are really regional issues and this is a great opportunity for business leaders and politicians to step across [state] lines," said J. Ed. Marston, marketing vice president for the Chattanooga Chamber.