Staff Photo: John Bohn Tanisha Henry, owner of Cu'i Watermellon Drink, fills sample cups at the Georgia Manufacturing Expo, held Saturday at Gwinnett Center. Fifty companies were in attendance to show their locally manufactured goods. The drink can be purchased at Whole Foods.
DULUTH -- Sometimes, when people see U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall driving his Kia Sorento, they tell him they are disappointed he doesn't drive an "American" car.
But Woodall told a crowd Saturday that he is proud of his vehicle, built right here in Georgia, knowing not only that he is helping support jobs at the automobile plant but at local suppliers nearby.
"With our wallets every day, we make hundreds of decisions," he said, adding that people don't just have power over their government as a voter. "You have even more power as a consumer."
Woodall addressed the group Saturday as part of the first ever Georgia Manufaturing Expo at the Gwinnett Center, an event put on to showcase Georgia-made products in an effort to not only get people to buy American but buy locally.
Organizer Jason Moss and others pointed out that while people could buy a generic cereal for less, buying Cinnamon Toast Crunch directly supports jobs in Conyers and buying Duracell batteries supports those in LaGrange.
"We are at a juncture where we can become the producer of what the world buys again," Woodall said. "We still have lots to celebrate here, and we have the ability to grow that through our decision. ... The ultimate arbiter for each and every one of those things will be you and me, when we open up our wallets."
As part of the event, Moss announced the launch of buyfromgeorgia.com, a website that is the first attempt to list products made in the state.
"People get excited about buying local, but, man, it's difficult," Moss said. "Now we can make educated decisions when we purchase."
Snaking their way through booths featuring a Georgia-made watermelon drink, flip-flops manufactured in Buford and a company that invented a keg cooler were Brian and Diane Breslin.
The Suwanee couple's interest was piqued by articles in the newspaper, since they love to find out about things made nearby. And Diane can't help but keep an ear out for future job opportunities for her kids in college.
"If we can patronize someone local, that's our preference," Brian Breslin said.