Consulate General of Japan Joji Miyamori visited Adairsville to inspect damage from the Jan. 30 tornado. Among the structures hardest hit by the tornado was the Daiki manufacturing facility, one of five Japanese companies located in Adairsville.
A tour of the Daiki plant was planned for Miyamori after the monthly chamber gathering, but rather than reflect on the damage done, the consulate general spoke of the progress made and the sense of community reflected in the actions of volunteer relief efforts.
“Mayor [Evan] King and Commissioner [Steve] Taylor, first allow me to express my sympathy and compassion to the Adairsville community in the wake of the tornado in January. You have faced great hardship and now begin to focus on rebuilding. As I understand it, more than 400 residential properties were damaged along with 30 commercial properties,” Miyamori said. “Despite this tragedy, it is amazing to see how you have come together as a community. The outpouring of support has been an inspiration. We heard that the day after the tornado, more than 1,000 people volunteered to help with the cleanup. We also know that a Japanese company, Daiki Corporation, was among the damaged area and that the community is lending tremendous assistance to help build back the facility. Seeing the Daiki Employment Relief Fund created from the community is truly heartwarming.
“I know there is still much to be done, but seeing you come together like this shows me what a wonderful community this is.”
Miyamori continued with a reminder of the tragedy that struck Japan just two years ago. March 11 will mark two years since the earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated much of the Japanese coastal regions. Miyamori remembered the outpouring of support from America in the days following the earthquake and vowed a continued friendship between Japan and America, telling those in attendance, “a friend in need, is a friend indeed.”
State Rep. Christian Coomer also spoke about the recovery effort and took the opportunity to recognize Yanmar America for their actions in the days following the storm. As cleanup began in earnest the Saturday after the tornado, 1,000 volunteers showed up to work alongside six Yanmar tractors fresh off the factory floor. For this and other selfless actions, Yanmar was recognized by Coomer on the House floor with a resolution, a copy of which was presented to Yanmar America President Ted Bregar.
“A resolution recognizing Yanmar America Corporation for its superior efforts during a natural disaster; and for other purposes. Whereas, Yanmar America Corporation is a primary employer and community part of Adairsville, Georgia,” reads House Resolution 573. “Whereas, within two days of the tornado, Yanmar America Corporation loaned the city six tractors with various implements for the volunteers to use during the cleanup efforts; and whereas, with the help of the Yanmar tractors, volunteers were able to accomplish what would have taken three to four months in only ten days; Yanmar tractors are still on site being used daily in the continuous disaster relief efforts with the corporation’s employees assisting daily to repair or change the tractor tires as needed as the volunteers continue working in the area.
“Whereas, Yanmar America Corporation collected food, toiletries, and clothing for displaced families; offered its shower facilities for the use of displaced families and volunteers; and donated over $3,000.00 in employee contributions for the relief effort.”
Following the special presentations from Miyamori and Coomer, featured guest Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, took the stage. Guests heard from Pridemore on what the agency is doing to meet the needs of employers and potential employers by preparing Georgia students for the workplace of today and tomorrow.
“About 18 months ago, I joined the governor’s staff to run the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development and we look at macro-level workforce issues across the state,” Pridemore said. “In 10 of the 12 regions in Georgia, workforce development is the No. 1 top priority for economic growth and prosperity. We know that an educated workforce is a working workforce where business and the economy can thrive together.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that each community, each county, each region involved has a qualified and educated workforce to address the needs of employers. One of the ways we do that is through the Go Build Georgia program. Go Build Georgia was started by Gov. Deal a year ago January to highlight the need for skilled labor education advancement across the state. This is not a Georgia problem, this is a national problem. When you look over the last two generations, we have told our children that they absolutely, positively have to go to a four-year college to achieve the American dream. Meanwhile, we have seen — whether it has been in manufacturing or transportation or telecommunications, energy and utilities — we have seen growing demand in skilled-craft labor.”
Go Build Georgia was crafted after a Go Build program in Alabama, but unlike the Alabama program, Georgia opted not to fund the program with an additional tax. Instead, Go Build Georgia is funded by a public-private partnership with public funds coming from federal workforce development grants and private partnerships coming from industrial partners with a vested interest in promoting the Go Build Georgia message, including local partner Georgia Power.
In addition to promoting the need for skilled labor, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development also coordinates a network of Go Build Georgia high school teams, which compete on the state level. Another outreach of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development is veterans services. Through www.operationworkforce.com, workforce development offers a one-stop-shop for veterans looking for a job, including job listings, companies that prioritize veteran hiring and an online tool for translating military experience into applicable language for civilian hiring managers.
For more information, visit www.workforce.georgia.gov.
Chamber, civic leaders meet with consulate general, Japanese industry
Following the Adairsville Council Eggs & Issues, representatives from Japanese industry throughout Bartow County met with local and state officials to speak directly with Miyamori before touring Adairsville and Daiki.
During their meeting, Daiki Plant Manager Wes Stephenson informed officials that an assessment of the damaged facility had been completed and found it structurally unsafe, meaning that the entire facility will have to be brought down.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor began a round of complimentary remarks directed at industry representatives for their contributions to the Adairsville community.
“I’d just like to say, on behalf of Bartow County and the efforts that Japanese companies have done for our community — especially during the storm and how Yanmar stepped up to the plate — we are really appreciative of the Japanese companies in our community that together employ somewhere around 2,000 employees,” said Taylor.
Adairsville Mayor Evan King also expressed his gratitude for the companies presence calling Adairsville “the smallest international community in the state.”
“I can’t express my appreciation enough to the Japanese companies, Bartow County and the state of Georgia,” King said. “We have about five Japanese companies and we very much appreciate having them as a part of the fabric of our community.”
Outside of Adairsville, Don Watterhouse, manager of Human Resources and General Affairs for Toyo Tire North America, spoke about the company’s past and future growth opportunities in Bartow.
“On behalf of Toyo Tire, I can’t tell you how much Bartow County and the state have done for us,” Watterhouse said. “We are continuing to grow. We’ve doubled the plant since we began operations in 2006 and we employ on site a little more than 1,000 people when you take into account contractors and all the people that help support the plant. And we will continue to grow. I don’t doubt if we have a couple more expansions under our belt before we’re done.”