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Eggs and Issues speakers suggest Georgia economy is bright –

by Manough Topalian
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Approximately 2,600 business leaders and others packed a ballroom at the Georgia World Congress Center on Jan. 11 for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast, a gathering at which representatives of business, industry, and government across the state report on Georgia’s economic standing and offer predictions and recommendations for the future.

The chamber announced that the Georgia Chamber Foundation’s 2023 Economic Competitiveness Redbook, a compilation of facts and figures that detail the state’s economic statistics compared with other states, is now available. The impetus for the publication, its introduction states, is “the need for a more strategic and data-driven approach to solving our most significant challenges.”

Information chronicled in Economic Competitiveness Redbook was echoed by speakers throughout the morning, noting especially that Georgia had been named the top state in which to do business for an unprecedented ninth year in a row.

“Our state has experienced incredible growth over the last few years and remained resilient through ever-evolving conditions….and sustained another record year of economic development in fiscal year 2022 with $21.2 billion in investments and 51,132 jobs from 358 projects,” the Georgia Chamber Foundation book states, adding, “With this extraordinary growth comes new challenges that are more complex than we have previously faced, including addressing our workforce shortages and building long-term talent pipelines, developing infrastructure of the future, and creating a more dynamic, diverse economy. These three areas of focus serve as the Georgia Chamber’s priorities to build the New Georgia Economy.”

Leading the lineup of speakers was Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who said he brought exciting news about Georgia’s capital city and economic engine for the state. “Atlanta currently has its highest bond rating ever and its largest reserves ever,” Dickens said. He also noted that Forbes has again named Atlanta among the nation’s best metropolitan areas for business and careers. Dickens acknowledged that crime is an issue the city continues to address but noted that crime against people is down.

The keynote speaker, Gov. Brian Kemp, said one of Georgia’s strengths is that its economy is built on both a variety of major corporations and a strong network of small businesses. “Some states depend on two or three major industries and if one of them fails huge numbers of people in that state are out of work. Well, they can come to Georgia; we have lots of high-quality jobs available,” Kemp said.

In fact, the governor added, one of the state’s biggest problems is filling its excess job vacancies. “It’s a nice problem to have,” he said, “but we need to find ways to bring Georgians who aren’t working back into the workforce.”
Kemp said the state is helping young Georgians get training and education beyond high school whether academic or technical training and “get out with little or no debt.”

He acknowledged that creating a high quality of life means not only jobs that pay well but also affordable housing. “We want people to be able to live in the communities where they work,” he said.

Inflation is still squeezing consumers, Kemp said, adding that Georgia has been trying to help its residents with a conservative approach to management of the state’s financial resources. “Some states that find themselves with a budget surplus start new programs and often have to discontinue those programs after a year or two. In Georgia we return the money to the hard-working people who earned it with tax refunds, gasoline tax reductions and other measures.”

He said the state is working on a property tax relief grant for property owners who have seen their property taxes soar in recent years. “These measures not only help individuals but the also keep the state’s economy moving forward.”

Kemp also announced a $2.5 billion QCells investment that is coming to Georgia. “We weren’t ready to announce this but apparently there are people in Washington who leaked the information. Fortunately, that didn’t ruin the deal for us,” he said.

Source: TCNP

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