Two years ago, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and the Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority (JDA) made an investment in education by creating a staff position for workforce development. The Chamber and JDA worked together to achieve the best opportunities for the citizens of our community. In the midst of a recession that carried the designation of Dalton Metro area having the highest unemployment of any community in Georgia, this group of professionals looked forward, searching for solutions.
At the same time, employers reported that they had positions available but could not find workers who were qualified for many vacant jobs. With this realization, the Chamber/JDA team began working to find ways to meet the needs of present employers as well as meet workforce needs of businesses desiring to locate in Greater Dalton. This was a learning curve for all involved. The needs were many and the question was how to fix the problem.
Community leaders took bold steps to bring a campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College to Whitfield County, which became a reality in August of 2011. Dalton State College continued to grow, now offering 15 bachelor degrees. Industry focus groups were held to find the potential growth areas and identify employment skills needed by employers.
Discussions about education became the focus at committee meetings all around the community. As the result of these discussions, vision, commitment and efforts from leaders and laity alike, the following bullet points exemplify things for which Greater Dalton Citizens should be thankful:
- To be an Archway Partnership Community, bringing resources from the University of Georgia to our community and assisting our citizens to look at our assets and search for ways to make us better.
- Dalton State College
- Georgia Northwestern Technical College
- To have opportunities for students to be dual enrolled in DSC or GNTC and area high schools, earning college credit while still in high school.
- To have elected officials, business professionals, and educational leaders at all levels to join together making tough discussions for the future.
- For the Young Professionals of Northwest Georgia, bringing young professionals together to enjoy each other socially and to develop a vision for the future.
- To have business leaders who sponsor Camp DEM, a design, engineering and manufacturing camp for middle school students and leaders who realize we cannot fix the workforce challenges at the high school or college level.
- To have professional and business citizens dedicate three days to Explore Experience, an extended job shadow experience for high school juniors.
- For the businesses who sponsor and participate in a Career Fair for high school students.
- For elected officials, business leaders, educational leaders to come together to proclaim that literacy is a key to the future of our community.
- For the formation of Readers to Leaders (R2L), literacy as a community initiative at all ages.
- For the vision of the leaders of The Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and Dalton/Whitfield Joint Development Authority.
Where do we go from here? How can you help as a citizen of Greater Dalton?
- Donate books
- Read to a child
- Read to a classroom
- Look at the R2L billboards and smile
- Help sponsor Camp DEM
- Host a student at your business for Explore Experience
- Thanks community leaders for their commitment and vision
- Say “thank you” to elected officials.
- Volunteer when volunteers are needed.
Do we still have challenges? The answer is yes. Do we have leaders who care and have a vision for the future? The answer is yes. The Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and JDA are committed to continue to find answers to challenges and further the vision……. Come join the team!!!