January 23, 2014

Werner Braun: Magazine touts carpet ‘rebirth’

Submitted by North Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

— The headline of the Dalton-Whitfield Economic Development Guide seems to say it all: “Carpet Comeback.”

This publication, sponsored by the Dalton Whitfield County Joint Development Authority, is produced annually to reflect the current business climate within the area.

And it’s been a good little while since we’ve seen such a bold declaration: “Carpet Comeback.”

Not surprisingly, this is very good news. What the most recent economic development guide is suggesting — no make that asserting — is that the area’s top industry is “not only making a comeback, but it is emerging stronger than ever, thanks to the adaptability, persistence and ingenuity of its leaders.”

According to the lead story, this comeback has occurred partly as a result of the increase in home sales and construction over the past few years. This resurgence has led to expansions within many area companies, and many others have invested in “state-of-the-art machinery” to keep pace with the competition.

The article focuses on the idea that our area industries have employed diversification techniques and innovation practices to make the industry more competitive than ever before.

Flooring company executives have touted various methods behind their successes, including updating infrastructure, diversifying into other markets, refining manufacturing practices, creating new products and creating cost savings by reducing energy usage.

This attractive publication, available by request via the Dalton Whitfield County Joint Development Authority, also discusses the “Retail Resurgence” that has occurred locally over the past few years. The article notes that in and around Dalton more than 300 businesses, employing about 3,000 employees, comprise one of the state’s largest downtown districts.

The story also points out that retail sales in Dalton are up and “have been growing at 10 percent, twice the state’s average.”  

This “retail-friendly” environment is partly due, according to this piece, to our low sales tax structure, a goal of Mayor David Pennington’s which has resulted in the lowest sales tax in the area.

And that particular story points out that the downtown area has become increasingly revitalized since 2008, thanks in large part to the Downtown Dalton Development Authority. This project of revitalization is aimed at highlighting the accessible and unique businesses downtown and in instilling community pride among our fellow citizens

Other articles in the publication focus on such topics as sustainability, one of the hottest topics around. “In the Green” delves into the ways in which the companies in Greater Dalton bolster their commitments to sustainable products and processes.   

The article “Dalton on the Move” touts the convenience of our transportation and logistics systems, making this community one of the most desirable around because of the many types of available transportation, including railways for long-distance shipping, easy interstate access for commercial trucks and even air services. Whitfield County has been out on front, the article notes, by passing a freeport tax exemption which exempts 100 percent of a manufacturer’s inventory from taxes.

And our Carbondale Business Park is recognized for being one of 21 designated statewide as a “Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development” site, the only one between Chattanooga and Atlanta that has interstate road footage.

But the economic development guide doesn’t focus solely on our good economic news; it also highlights our first-class medical system, recognized nationally with a five-star rating from Healthgrades; our comprehensive educational system, taking our young people from preschool through college; and our recreational treasure trove of bike paths, Native American history and Civil War sites, golf courses, city parks and much more.

Reading this publication recently made me quite proud to call Dalton-Whitfield home. We have a lot to be proud of, and thankful for, and our “Carpet Comeback” certainly tops the list.

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.