The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s (GaMEP) new initiative focuses on food processing 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,” says 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 says, 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 explains. “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.”

Georgia is a one of the nation’s leading agricultural states, with the industry contributing about $74.9 billion to the state economy each year. As by extension, food processing is a strong and growing component of the Georgia economy, accounting 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.