Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Georgia Economic Development Leaders Outline Plans to Ensure a Strong Future

Three leading members of Georgia’s economic development community held a briefing today during which they acknowledged the challenges currently facing the state but also reflected upon the achievements of the past year and the core assets that will ensure Georgia’s future success.

Ken Stewart, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, George Israel, President of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and Sam A. Williams, President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, expressed their commitment and that of the economic development community as a whole to continue working to identify investment opportunities, increase jobs, and maintain programs and assets that will attract new business to the state.

“We have an extensive and very professional economic development community in Georgia that is working tirelessly to bring jobs to our citizens,” said Commissioner Stewart. “The fact is that our state has strong assets upon which we will continue to build. Working together, I have no doubt that we will not only survive this recession, but come out of it well positioned for growth.”

The state has implemented several initiatives to step up its sales and marketing efforts, including a focus on existing industries with multiple locations in the U.S. and around the world, targeted outreach to company CEOs, meetings with key strategic industry players in aerospace and agriculture, and familiarization tours for international companies and journalists.

The state has worked 313 business location and expansion projects thus far in 2008, which are in various states of progress from completed to newly active. Companies such as NCR Corporation, Newell Rubbermaid, Toyo Tire, PETCO, Wendy’s/Arby’s
Group and Telfair Forest Products are adding jobs and corporate infrastructure throughout the state. In addition, the Kia manufacturing facility is on track to begin production in 2009, bringing with it numerous supplier companies and ultimately projected to be responsible for 6,000 of jobs.

“It is not surprising that businesses continue to establish or expand their presence in Georgia,” added Israel. “Key assets including our ports and airport, workforce and training opportunities, international connections and our business friendly reputation continue to make us attractive to companies of all kinds.”

Georgia consistently enjoys high rankings with regard to a number of key business factors including workforce training, fiscal policy and the ability to attract a dynamic young population. These factors, combined with a comparatively low cost of living and corporate tax structure are keeping companies interested in the state.

“There is no doubt that these are challenging times, but Georgia’s economic development community is working together more closely than ever to recruit companies from all over the globe and create jobs,” Williams said. “And companies are still incredibly interested in metro Atlanta and Georgia because of key competitive strengths that are hard for others to duplicate. We are home to the world’s busiest airport and the world’s largest airline, 57 colleges and universities, and the fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the nation – and we’re leading the nation in attracting the college-educated young professionals that every city and state are competing for.”

Williams said that in 2009, the Metro Atlanta Chamber will conduct economic development missions in target countries around the globe, including Brazil, India, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. Domestic trips are planned in major cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and others.

Among Georgia’s economic development “bright spots” cited in the briefing were the state’s strong in-migration of a young, professional workforce and the HOPE scholarship program as well as its diverse economy, thriving international community and the strength of its ports.
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