Quick Start program fuels auto jobs in Ga. town

Over the past year, the Quick Start program has worked with 220 companies across Georgia, training 11,000 workers.
CBS News

Unemployment in August rose in a majority of states for the third straight month, and Georgia had the biggest year-over-year job loss of any state. But one Georgia town -- fed up with unemployment -- has found a way to put people back to work.CBS News correspondent Chip Reid took a look at how that's being done.

Joyce Spears says that from Day One, she knew exactly how to do her job on this Kia assembly line in West Point, Ga.

"With this, you come in, you know what you're going to do." she said. "You know what's going to be expected."

That's because all 3,000 workers at the assembly line first went through Georgia's Quick Start -- the nation's oldest and most successful state job training program. Georgia spent $14.5 million of taxpayer money to build a training facility which is modeled on the assembly line, right on Kia's property

Quick Start's Rodger Brown said it was all part of convincing Kia to come to Georgia

"I think the key to success is listening to the business," he said, "and it's delivering the exact skills the company needs at the right time."

Randy Jackson, Kia's vice president for human resources, says a program like Quick Start makes the difference between success and failure.

"Absolutely," said Jackson, "because if you train your people right and they enjoy what they're doing, and they do it well, they're going to be happy, and they're going to be excited about what they do and have pride in their work."

The West Point area was once home to a thriving textile industry. But when those jobs went overseas, not much was left. And the community was on the verge of becoming a ghost town.

Today it's roaring back. Restaurants are packed for lunch. West Point Mayor Drew Furguson says 39 new businesses have opened their doors since Kia came to town.

"As the textile industry began to wind down here," he said, "we did have a very solid workforce. And through the Georgia Quick Start program we've been able to take that manufacturing base and convert it from textiles into automotive."

Over the past year, the Quick Start program has worked with 220 companies across Georgia, training 11,000 people. Officials say it's an investment that pays for itself many times over -- a lesson for other states looking for a spark in a dismal economy.

  • Chip-Reid_bio_140x100_bw.jpg
    Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.