Want to know how big the automotive industry is in the South?
The South is the fastest-growing region in North America for automobile manufacturing and has the third largest gross domestic product in the world.
The Southern Automotive Conference (SAC) came Oct. 3-5 to the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta with a theme of "Forward Momentum" and a goal of becoming an unforgettable experience. Networking opportunities, world-class speakers, an expo and breakout sessions designed to fuel careers and drive business forward.
Organizers saw close to 1,800 attendees, 300 exhibitors and a dozen-plus foreign manufacturer pavilions.
The SAC is presented each year by the automotive manufacturing associations of Alabama (AAMA), Mississippi (MAMA), Tennessee (TAMA) and GAMA. The Kentucky Automotive Industry Association (KAIA), South Carolina Automotive Council (SCAC), and Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF) are affiliate members of SAC. The premier sponsor for SAC 2018 is KIA Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
“The conference is an 11-year tradition now, and the four of us in the Southern Automotive Manufacturers Alliance (SAMA) feel it’s an obligation to improve every year,” says Rick Walker, a patent attorney and president, CEO and founder of GAMA. “Continuously improving is in our DNA. We are passionate about putting together something special. We want people to say, ‘If I didn’t come here, I never would have seen this.’”
Basically anything involved with manufacturing a car or truck was present at the show.
“We make more cars in the South than in any other part of the country. With that backdrop, we will showcase what we have going on in our industry. We are innovating a lot," added Walker. “The conference will connect attendees with what they come to see — technology, innovation and industry leaders. We’ll provide ways to renew contacts, and to create and cultivate relationships with some of the biggest players in the automotive field today.”
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With Kia Motors as the title sponsor, it worth a mention that international delegations and and international pavilion featuring Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom were all available to share ideas and information. More countries are expected next year.
There also was a Georgia pavilion where those with a Georgia connection could set up shot.
Georgia Tech Motorsports (GT Motorsports)
Georgia Tech students were manning a booth with a SAE Formula 1 car on display. While a majority of the team members are undergraduates from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, students majoring in Aeronautical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science, Computer Science, Industrial Design, and Management participate on the team. All work is voluntary. The students apply their individual classroom experience to the design, fabrication, and testing of the car. There is a competition each year that the team aims for in Michigan.
Workforce Development Zone
The new Workforce Development Zone (WDZ), which is sponsored by Data Interchange, will be in the main exhibit hall. Organizers say the zone will address one of the automotive manufacturing industry’s most pressing issues and offers the chance to connect one-on-one with strategists.
“Workforce development has been top-of-mind for all of the OEMs and major Tier 1s, and we are responsive to that,” Walker says. “Exhibitors from participating states, who specialize in workforce development, will share their best practices and partner with attendees to strategize for the future.
The Stars of Southern Manufacturing Awards
To honor excellent employees at every level of an automotive company - from the managerial level to the factory floor - the conference will, on Oct. 4, feature The Stars of Southern Manufacturing Awards Luncheon. Awards will be presented to several employees who possess skills and personalities that keep automotive companies running.