Three women and five men became the first students to graduate from the Murray Works Employment Academy on Tuesday, June 14.

The 10-day bootcamp caters to workforce recruitment needs of local large employers. It is focused on equipping graduates of high schools in Murray County, with no post-secondary plans, with the knowledge and skills to fill entry-level manufacturing jobs that become high-quality, high-performing manufacturing careers, said Dr. Heidi Popham, Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) president. 

“A unique component of this project is that participating employers wanted to offset tuition costs so there was no barrier for these students entering the manufacturing or business jobs,” Popham said. “As a result, these employers donated enough funds to offset 100% of the tuition costs for all eight students.”

The program launched June 2 and covers topics designed to prepare students for jobs with local manufacturers, such as a history of the floorcovering industry and its technological developments, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-Hour General Industry Training, forklift operator awareness training, warehousing skills and Excel Level 1 training, said Eli Falls, president and CEO of the Murray County Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Authority. The students completed 64 hours of training during the bootcamp.

The students also learned soft skills, such as interview preparation and resume writing. Interviews with prospective employers were held after the graduation ceremony.

The program graduates are Olivia Brackett, Ethan Dempsey, Tyler Frazier, Jovanny Lopez, Paxton Morgan, Alexander Patterson, Haley Prevette and Alexia Watkins.

“The success of this program is evidence of the value of partnerships–for students, the employers, the chamber, the college and the community,” Popham said.

Murray Works Employment Academy sponsors include AdventHealth Murray, Carmeuse Lime and Stone Filler Products, Chatsworth Water Works Commission, Engineered Floors, Foss Floors, Georgia Power, Hamilton Health Care System, Huali Floors USA, Mohawk Industries, Phenna Petty, Precision Tufting Components Inc., Quality Staffing Inc. and Shaw Industries.

The idea for Murray Works grew from a brainstorming session in October 2021 and developed by working with the Murray Chamber, officials said. In April, the Murray Chamber named GNTC as its 2022 Innovator of the Year for its role in developing the academy.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,134 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,528 students and an additional enrollment of 2,606 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

(From left) Dr. Heidi Popham, president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College; Steve Smith, Chatsworth Water Works Commission; Sheila Smith, Murray County Chamber of Commerce; graduates Alexia Watkins, Haley Prevette, Alexander Patterson, Paxton Morgan, Tyler Frazier, Jovanny Lopez, Ethan Dempsey, Olivia Brackett; and Eli Falls, Murray County Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Authority.