Cartersville-Bartow County
Economic Development

P.O. Box 2224
Cartersville, GA 30120
Phone: 770.607.1199

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Constellium named “2018 Innovator of the Year”

October 11, 2018

ATLANTA – October 5, 2018 –The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) today announced the winners of the third annual Georgia Automotive Awards. The awards were designed to recognize automotive leaders throughout the state, and to honor them for the contributions they have made to build a robust automotive ecosystem in Georgia. Winners were announced at a breakfast in advance of the Southern Automotive Conference in Atlanta.


“Congratulations to our 2018 Georgia Automotive Award winners,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We have worked hard to cultivate the nation’s best business environment, and Georgia’s automotive sector continues to remain one of our top industries due to the vast resources and incredible workforce we have to offer. The 2018 winners have had a significant impact on our state’s economy by creating jobs and investing in our communities, and have played a huge role in why are continually named the top state for business.”


Nominees in each of the five categories were voted on by representatives from the Georgia Automotive Manufacturing Association, Georgia Tech, Georgia Economic Developers Association and others. These committee members embody a diverse cross-section of experts with a deep understanding of the automotive industry.


The 2018 Georgia Automotive Award winners include:


Georgia Automotive Company of the Year

A Georgia-based automotive company that exemplifies all relevant factors as outlined in the other awards, and demonstrates overall industry leadership within the state.


Winner: Blue Bird Corporation, Fort Valley


Blue Bird offers a complete line of school buses in a variety of options and configurations. Since 1927, Blue Bird Corporation has continued to set industry standards with its innovative design and manufacturing capabilities, and has set itself as the leader in alternative fuel buses, with propane, gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric offerings. Today, Blue Bird has more than 2,000 employees located at their Georgia-based manufacturing facilities and an extensive network of Dealers and Parts & Service facilities throughout North America.


Community Impact Award

An automotive company that strongly demonstrates a high level of corporate citizenship in and around the local community and/or within the state of Georgia.


Winner: Erdrich USA, Dublin


Erdrich is committed to their employees and community. Erdrich promotes employee participation in the Leadership Dublin-Laurens County program where graduates from this program develop their leadership skills and also connect with community leaders. The company is actively involved in the Dublin-Laurens Chamber of Commerce and also partners with the Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) to provide the OFTC Erdrich USA/AWEBA apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program allows high school students to participate in a paid apprenticeship at Erdrich and study at the OFTC Machine Lab. Upon completion of the program, all apprentices are offered full time jobs at the company


Innovator of the Year

Conferred to the company that clearly demonstrates a commitment to excellence and innovation in their approach to solving a problem within the automotive industry.


 Winner: Constellium, White 


Constellium’s state-of-the art plant in White is dedicated to the production of aluminum automotive Crash Management Systems and structural components. Opened in 2017, the plant takes pride in its innovative people, products and processes, delivering solutions that make vehicles lighter, safer and more fuel efficient. The White plant utilizes Constellium’s newest high-strength alloy for structural components, Constellium HSA6™, which was recognized at the 2017 Altair Enlighten Awards as runner up in the Enabling Technology category for its contribution to vehicle light weighting.


Georgia Automotive Supplier of the Year

A supplier to an automotive OEM, at any tier, that demonstrates strong growth and projections, which positively impact the overall economic health of the state of Georgia.

Winner: Koyo Bearings North America, LLC., Cairo, Georgia

JTEKT North America’s Koyo Bearing plant in Cairo manufactures high-volume automotive components utilized in engine valve train and transmission applications. The Cairo facility employs more than 400 associates in and around Grady County who produce upwards of 90 million high-quality bearings annually for global customers in the automotive and industrial segments. Since 2014, JTEKT has invested nearly $30 million in the Cairo facility, installing the latest bearings equipment and technologies to continue to produce world-class products and attract the next generation of associates. With additional manufacturing facilities in Dahlonega and Sylvania, JTEKT employs nearly 1100 Georgians who manufacture products for the aerospace, industrial and automotive industries.

Georgia Automotive Leader of the Year Award

A leader in the automotive industry who has devoted their time and effort to leadership of a company with operations in the state of Georgia, and who demonstrated pride in the company’s Georgia-based operations.


Winner: Don Panoz – Panoz, LLC, Braselton

Awarded posthumously, Don Panoz has made a lasting impact on Georgia’s automotive industry. His passion for endurance racing led him into the automotive industry and he quickly became a leader in finding efficiency solutions including improving aerodynamics with his DeltaWing project, using sustainable fuel alternatives with his Green4U project, and most notably for his Panoz sports cars. He and his son, Dan were one of the first to use aluminum chassis and other light weighting materials. Through his work, he helped revive sports car racing in North America. Don Panoz passed away on September 11, 2018 and leaves behind a strong legacy in Georgia.



About GDEcD

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a destination for arts and location for film, music and digital entertainment projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. Visit for more information.


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