In Decatur, Georgia, there’s a new company producing the Ozark Trail coolers sold exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com. It’s called California Innovations, and it’s making waves as it creates new jobs for people across the county.
How does something as simple as a cooler change a community? We sat down with Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones to get his thoughts.
What kind of impact has California Innovations had on DeKalb County?
Too many American cities have faced losses and hardship after a lot of local manufacturing work moved overseas. In 2016, California Innovations opened their new facility in Decatur, Georgia, and with it they created 150 new jobs for American workers. When you create opportunities like that for families and workers, you pump life back into the heartbeat of their communities. I’m excited to hear that in addition to the 150 jobs already created in DeKalb County, 150 more are projected to support the growth of the facility.
Why are local manufacturing jobs important for your district?
Throughout my career as a former DeKalb County executive and now a Georgia State House representative for the 91st district, I have been – and always will be – interested in job creation. It’s important for both smaller communities and the entire state to take advantage of opportunities like this one, which will have a lasting impact on the growth of the community.
Although the recession is behind us and unemployment is down, there are still many people out there who lack the skills or training to find meaningful work. California Innovations is a company that has proven to understand this, embrace it and embody it in the treatment of their employees.
What are some of the ways you helped the people of Decatur prepare for this opportunity?
In many towns, most jobs are created by small businesses. To keep these businesses – and job opportunities – strong, they need tools and resources that can help them thrive. When new employers come to our district, they’re looking for a trained workforce with the necessary skills to do the job. When I learned California Innovations was coming to our district and planned on investing in our workforce, I wanted to pitch in right away and introduce them to organizations that could help them out.
For instance, Ozark Trail coolers are formed by roto molding, a process that creates a vacuum inside the walls of the cooler so it can keep ice frozen for hours, even on a hot day. DeKalb County Workforce Development, which helps workers in the county gain skills and resources to find meaningful work, teamed up with California Innovations to help them find and train a workforce who can do this type of job. The result is a facility that uses the highest-level technology and a team of skilled, knowledgeable workers who possess a deep understanding of their field.
What does it looks like when communities are positively impacted by job creation?
I believe there is nothing like the confidence and self-esteem of someone who is working. It’s a virtuous circle: as the factory grows, it feeds the pool of employment opportunities, its employees can clearly define a career path and the benefits ripple throughout the community and local economy. It’s important that California Innovations knows how much our community appreciates the opportunities they bring to our neighborhoods, and we wholeheartedly support them.
From the expression on the employees’ faces to the quality of products they’re making, it’s evident that the people of California Innovations have a true appreciation for what U.S. manufacturing is doing in their state and their communities.