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CONTACT:  LISA GARRETT, lgarrett@tctc.edu

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           10/18/2018

                                                                                                (By Lisa Garrett)

SANDY SPRINGS --- Jake Jackson had no idea his life could change so dramatically over the course of a year.

Since completing the Michelin Manufacturing Scholars (MMS) program in December 2017, he has been hired as a full-time Manufacturing Professional at the Sandy Springs plant, he has paid off his car, and he and his wife, Suzanne, bought their first home.  He has never had health and dental insurance – now he has both.

“It was like winning the lottery,” said Jackson, 27, who since graduating from Palmetto High School, worked jobs in forklift driving and furniture moving – jobs that paid no more than $11 an hour, had no benefits and required long hours, at times six days a week.

“I wanted a career,” said Jackson, who was one of eight students accepted last year to the first-of-its-kind and first-in-the-State Michelin Manufacturing Scholars Program designed to build and grow the workforce of the future.

MMS is a program that helps students to transition from low-wage jobs or unemployment into a manufacturing career with a company that cares for them and their future.

It is designed for entry-level manufacturing professionals and is a pathway leading to manufacturing careers with Michelin.  The one-semester program is customized to meet the needs Michelin has for qualified entry-level manufacturing professionals at US 2 in Sandy Springs and US 8 in Starr.

MMS includes a thirteen-credit-hour Manufacturing Operator I certificate and paid work hours each week of extensive hands-on training at Michelin.  Students earn a College certificate and two industry-recognized national certifications. Participants may receive an offer of full-time employment after successfully completing all program and employment requirements and have the opportunity to continue their education toward an associate degree. 

There is no cost to the students, with tuition and books covered by Michelin.

“It’s a great opportunity.  That sold me,” said Jackson, who attended ITT in Greenville after graduating from Palmetto, but college was cut short following the deaths of his father and sister.  He began working full time after he and his mother assumed custody of his sister’s children. 

The jobs were paying the bills, Jackson says, “but I was stuck in the same place as when I graduated from high school.”

He only began to think of college again when his wife, a student at Tri-County, told him about the I-BEST pathways, one of which is MMS,  that are designed to meet workforce needs.  His wife, who works for Cross Country, will soon graduate from Tri-County.  “The College has helped both of us,” he said.

I-BEST pathways focus on immediate employment and pathways to careers requiring an associate degree.  They blend college credit, non-credit training and industry-recognized skills certifications. They also build confidence and competence for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and for continued college study.

Jackson talked with Julianne DiCicco-Wiles (I-BEST coordinator) and later watched a Michelin video.  “Employees, some who had been at the plant for 40 years, talked about how much they love the company. There were generation of families working there and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

The first time he stepped foot in a manufacturing facility was at age 28 when he was accepted into the MMS program.  He admits he was hesitant because of the myths about manufacturing.  He quickly learned that working in advanced manufacturing is challenging and requires highly skilled individuals.

“I-BEST instructor Melinda Hoover, a former plant manager, gave us real-world knowledge, in addition to textbooks.  She has been there.  She brought her experiences and stories to the class.  She taught us the basics of how a plant operates,” he said.

After four months of working 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the plant and attending class at 4 p.m., Jackson was offered a job on one of Michelin’s rubber mixing lines.

 “Michelin provides a wonderful work environment that drew me in and made me want to stay. They want the best for us and for us to be the best employees we can be,” Jackson added.

            “The MMS program wasn’t easy but it was well worth it.  I knew I would better myself. But I had no idea it would be this fast.  I buckled down and it paid off. I still have debt from ITT, but with Tri-County I have zero debt and earned a net profit.  I am so grateful for the opportunity so I try my best to be an ambassador for the program,” he said.

 “It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said Jackson.