Dalton, Georgia, is home to some of the world’s biggest carpet companies.
“We are the floor-covering capital to the world, and we’re very proud of that,” says Carl Campbell of the local economic development authority.
He says the 2008 housing market collapse hit the carpet industry hard: “That recession devastated our community, and we lost about 10,000 jobs in about a year and a half.”
The industry never fully recovered. So leaders have been working to diversify Dalton’s economy and attract new industries, including renewable energy.
Now a company called Hanwha Q Cells operates a huge solar panel factory in Dalton. Campbell says it provides well-paying jobs for about 700 people, so it’s creating new opportunities for many residents.
“We are a manufacturing community,” he says. “There’s a lot of people here that have a lot of transferable skills.”
And he says some local schools and colleges have tailored their programs to help more people prepare for jobs in the growing solar industry.
“There was a lot of excitement about the fact that we had this green company that was making solar panels in our community,” Campbell says. “It’s a product that’s needed, and it’s not going to go away.”
So he sees a promising future for clean energy jobs in the carpet capital of the world.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media