Manufacturing Day

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp speaks to the crowds at Manufacturing Day at Leggett & Platt before the tours began.

Whirring machines, rattling devices and spinning spools of wire all clattered along inside the walls of the Leggett & Platt plant in Monroe, creating a cacophony that filled the very air.

The only thing louder than the literal sound of industry was the excited murmur of hundreds of high school students discovering a possible future.

Students from all over the Walton County School District descended on the Monroe plant of the mattress and bedding manufacturer for a tour of the facility, all part of the nationwide Manufacturing Day.

“This is the first time Leggett & Platt in Monroe has participated in Manufacturing Day,” branch manager George Spires said to the visitors and dignitaries who came out Thursday morning for the event. “It’s a new experience for us. We don’t entertain very often, so it’s a big project for us.”

While more than 300 students were bused out to the plant beginning at noon, the event began earlier in the day with tours for local politicians and business leaders, complete with a visit from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

“Manufacturing is a huge part of Georgia’s economy,” Kemp said, emphasizing the importance of Manufacturing Day. “It’s literally what drives our state.”

Manufacturing Day began in 2012  as a way to celebrate modern manufacturing. Manufacturers around the world invite students, educators, business people and politicians, among many others, to their facilities each year around the beginning of October to educate them about manufacturing.

Last year, nearly 600,000 people across the nation participated, including more than 267,000 students.

This year, 328 students from the Walton County system’s three high schools were among those numbers and Spires said they were proud to welcome the kids to the plant and show them the state of manufacturing in Walton County.

“We want to offer the kids the chance to see what we do here and show them what they can do if they choose to work here in the future,” Spires said.

Nathan Franklin, WCSD superintendent, said the Manufacturing Day tours were an excellent way to connect students to the community.

“We’re excited to have our students connect with this industry and see the opportunities available to them in Walton County,” Franklin said. “It’s all part of our Walton Proud initiative.”

Stephen Milligan is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.