Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership launches outreach initiative for food processing manufacturers
Damon Nix (left), senior project manager at the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, discusses ergonomic solutions for lifting bags of malt with Bobby Epperson, operations training and safety manager at Terrapin Brewery in Athens, Georgia. (Photo credit: Caley Landau)
Georgia is a one of the nation’s leading agriculture states, with the industry contributing about $74.9 billion to the state economy each year.
A related sector — food processing — is a strong and growing component of the Georgia economy, and accounts for $11 billion to $12 billion each year of the state’s gross domestic product. Food processing also employs 69,000 across the state, with 10,000 of those jobs being created since 2010, according to Georgia Power’s 2016 Food Processing Industry Report.
It’s that strength in food processing, which comprises the largest segment of Georgia’s manufacturing sector, that led to the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s (GaMEP) new initiative focused on those manufacturers’ unique needs.
GaMEP, a federally funded economic development program at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, works with manufacturers across Georgia to help them remain viable and economically competitive.
“Food processing comprises many different products and sizes of manufacturers and it is important to assure their viability and growth,” said GaMEP Director Karen Fite. “This effort is in recognition of where the growth is occurring in the manufacturing sector and we want to make sure we’re applying our resources and expertise, as well as cutting edge research coming out of Georgia Tech, that can help our manufacturers.”
Damon C. Nix, GaMEP’s senior project manager, is leading the food manufacturing programming, which includes coaching, analysis, and consulting in:
- Food Safety
- Compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements.
- Management system implementation and audit team support.
- Energy Management
- Energy assessments to identify cost reduction and performance improvement opportunities.
- Companies with fewer than 500 employees at a plant site may qualify for a free energy assessment through Georgia Tech’s Industrial Assessment Center program.
- Environmental Services
- Environmental compliance services and management system (ISO 14001) support.
- Environmental Protection Agency P2 grant-funded projects that support pollution prevention through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and hazardous materials generation.
- Worker Safety and Health
- Implement lean/process improvement approaches to safety problem solving.
- Partner with the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Food Processing Technology Division to support Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules compliance, applied research, and technology solutions.
- Workforce Development
- Operational Leader and Frontline Supervisor Training.
“Georgia’s food processing GDP ranks it sixth in the country and we rank sixth in employment,” Nix said, noting the state has roughly 680 food processing manufacturers, including the 127 that either relocated to Georgia or built new facilities here since 2010.
“The GaMEP has created significant results serving manufacturers overall,” Nix said. “We want to continue that momentum in food processing. Georgia’s manufacturing industry remains competitive and continues to grow because the food processing industry is expanding. We want food processors to know that the GaMEP is a resource to support their continued growth.”
About the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP):
The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) is an economic development program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The GaMEP is a member of the National MEP network supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. With offices in nine regions across the state, the GaMEP has been serving Georgia manufacturers since 1960. It offers a solution-based approach to manufacturers through coaching and education designed to increase top line growth and reduce bottom line cost.