Quick Start is a workforce training program designed to support new and existing businesses in Georgia. Ranked the top program of its kind in the nation by Expansion Management magazine in 2005, Quick Start is part of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). The program, which began in the late 1960s, completed nearly 5,200 training projects in the state by 2007. More than half a million residents have benefited from the program, which is credited with the successful creation and retention of jobs in Georgia. Quick Start’s headquarters are in Atlanta, and the program has regional offices in Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, and Vidalia. Jackie Rohosky, assistant commissioner for economic development programs for the TCSG, has led Quick Start since 1990.
Originally part of the Department of Education, Quick Start began as a modest training program in 1967 and has since become one of the state’s primary economic incentives for attracting companies interested in expanding or relocating to Georgia. In 1988 Quick Start became part of the newly formed Department of Technical and Adult Education (later TCSG), which today supervises the state’s technical colleges, its economic and workforce development programs, and its adult literacy programs. The technical colleges and their satellite campuses partner with Quick Start to deliver training to a variety of businesses, including call centers, manufacturers, and warehouse distribution centers. The state agrees to provide skilled workers for the company beyond the initial training period, and companies using Quick Start agree to stay in Georgia for a specified time period.
The Quick Start process often begins with a company’s interest in relocating to Georgia. Project leaders at Quick Start then conduct a project study to determine the specific needs of the business, and the program’s creative services department and media technology group produce all the necessary training materials. Once the lesson plans, job aids, and training materials are complete, training is delivered on-site or in the classroom. Quick Start offers training in the areas of automotive, advanced manufacturing, biotech/health care, food/agribusiness, and warehousing/distribution.
Quick Start and the state’s technical colleges form partnerships with large international companies as well as with smaller “homegrown” businesses. Heart of Georgia Technical College (later Oconee Fall Line Technical College) developed programs and trained employees for Eastman-based Aircraft Manufacturing and Development Company in 2000, and in 2002 North Metro Technical College (later Chattahoochee Technical College) partnered with Quick Start to provide training for an existing business, Applied Thermoplastic Resources, a thermoplastic recycling company in Cartersville. In October 2006 Kia Motors Corporation, a Korean automobile manufacturer, broke ground in West Point for its first factory in the United States. West Georgia Technical College in LaGrange was selected to deliver the training for the Kia plant.
In 2005 Quick Start’s offices moved to Midtown Atlanta’s new Busbee Center for Global Economic Development and Innovation, named for former Georgia governor George Busbee, an early supporter of the Quick Start program. As of 2007 Quick Start operated with a budget of $11 to $12 million, with more than 70 percent of its projects happening outside the metropolitan Atlanta area, and during fiscal year 2008 more than 46,000 trainees participated in 260 Quick Start programs.