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Businesses honored at annual manufacturing awards
Sara Irvani, CEO of Okabashi Brands, was keynote speaker for the third annual economic development summit and Manufacturers of Distinction and Leadership, or MODL, Awards. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Local teachers, students and business leaders were recognized this week for their involvement in Forsyth County’s manufacturing sector.

On Wednesday, the Forsyth Chamber of Commerce celebrated its third annual economic development summit and Manufacturers of Distinction and Leadership, or MODL, Awards at a special ceremony at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Tech.

The luncheon’s keynote speaker was Sara Irvani, CEO of Okabashi Brands, a sandal manufacturer headquartered in Buford, who said manufacturing both in Georgia and in the United States offered unique advantages over foreign manufacturing.

“It means so many things,” she said. “‘Made in USA’ means optimized supply chains, being able to get things to your partners faster. It means better quality of life and more transparency for your team. It means superior quality. It means reduced environmental impact because the standards that we have in this country are so much higher than anywhere else.”

Businesses than were honored with awards during the ceremony were GAF Materials for small manufacturer of the year, American BOA for medium-sized manufacturer and Scientific Games for a sustainability award.

Students and teachers from Forsyth County Schools were also honored at the event. Riverwatch Middle School’s Vivian Chan and Lambert High School’s Shu Yi Lin were awarded student art design awards at the middle and high school levels for works that recognize manufacturing in the state, and Alliance Academy for Innovation teacher Jon Welsch was named engineering and manufacturing high school educator of the year.

“Throughout the entire school year, Alliance Academy puts on a lot of events. We run robotics competitions for every single middle school in the county, so they can come in and enjoy what I have enjoyed for the last 15 years,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without the wonderful facility we have at Alliance Academy, which was encouraged by all the contributions through the chamber and the members in Forsyth County.”