The Northwest Georgia IMCP Consortium (the “CONSORTIUM”) is a voluntary group which received “Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership” (“IMCP”) designation as a “Manufacturing Community” on June 23, 2014, from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (“EDA”) to support the region’s cluster-based Northwest Georgia Regional Advanced Manufacturing Strategy to grow and support the region’s floor covering manufacturing industries.


The Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) program is one of the US Department of Commerce’s main initiatives to support job creation and accelerate manufacturing growth to make communities more globally competitive by transforming their industrial ecosystems into globally-competitive manufacturing hubs. IMCP does this through the support of long-term community-based economic development strategies designed to attract and expand private investment in manufacturing and promote international trade and exports.

The Northwest Georgia region was selected for one of 26 first-round Commerce awards made across the country in 2013. The award enabled the development of an Advanced Manufacturing Strategy initially focused on the region’s established Floor Covering industry.

In May 2014, the US Department of Commerce further designated the Northwest Georgia region as one of 12 Manufacturing Communities through the IMCP program. This two-year designation gives organizations that support the industry via the Northwest Georgia’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy elevated status for certain federally-aligned grant programs.

The Evolution of the Floor Covering Cluster in Northwest Georgia

The Northwest Georgia region is the global leader in the floor covering industry.  Known as “The Carpet Capital of the World,” 85 percent of all carpet manufactured in the US is produced in Georgia and more than 70 percent of the total output of the industry in the world comes from the Dalton region.1  Georgia is home to the carpet industry’s top four companies and eight of the 13 largest carpet companies are headquartered in the state.  Seven of the top 10 carpet manufacturers are based in Georgia.2  The region’s industry base is comprised of a diverse set of companies both multinationals, medium-sized firms, and innovative start-up companies primarily in textile and textile mill manufacturing but also in organic fiber manufacturing, resource and energy conservation, reduction of waste, and efficient processing techniques.3

This industry cluster is unique in that it is situated outside of a large metro region (the Atlanta MSA), and innovative in that it has adopted technology changes over time in response to changes in the market and its customers.  The prominence of Dalton as the hub for floor covering manufacturing in the U.S. can be traced to several key manufacturing technological developments in the region: (1) invention of tufting, (2) use of mechanized tufting machines, (3) shift to sculpted carpet, (4) use of carpet tiles, or “squares”, and (5) development of treated carpet with stain-repelling properties.

The carpet and rug market began to erode with cheaper imports in the mid-twentieth century.  Consumers became less concerned with the weave pattern, and more concerned with design variations and price.4 Employment in the sector also declined as the industry was severely impacted by the most recent economic downturn. Yet through the turbulence, the industry has been a champion of its own resurgence.  In response to market challenges, the industry has streamlined production, increased automation, and diversified its offerings from carpet and rug, to a cadre of floor covering alternatives – hardwood, tile, ceramic, and resilient flooring.

Today’s efforts focus around sustainable manufacturing, including the use of recycled products and renewable energy sources for a “cradle to grave” manufacturing process. The 2012 Georgia Manufacturing Survey shows that this textile industry has some of the highest uses of sustainable manufacturing practices of any industry in the state, particularly reducing smokestack waste, recycling and reusing material, and reducing energy used by employee travel.5  The lifecycle of carpet has historically ended with the consumer.  Today, these carpet materials are being recovered and reused, creating new products for other key industries in the region.  This has led to diversification of the carpet industry into what is today considered “floor covering”.

As manufacturing has evolved, the floor covering industry has followed suit.  A shift toward recycling technology and new materials research shows promise, and can feed and help support other key industries in the region, such as automotive.  It is this shift that will drive innovation over the entire spectrum of the ecosystem.

IMCP Manufacturing Partners

Map courtesy of Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership: www.manufacturingcommunities.org.

The Floor360 Consortium

Associations and Utilities






  1. Interview with Werner Braun, Executive Director, Carpet and Rug Institute. March 4, 2014.
  2. Source: Georgia Department of Economic Development
  3. Source: Dalton Incubator Assessment, 2011.
  4. Carpet Capital: The Rise of a New South Industry.  Randall Patton.
  5. Source: 2012 Georgia Manufacturing Survey: www.gms-ei2.org