Despite more than 130,000 job losses in recent years, manufacturing is still very much a driving force in our state's economy.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development reports that approximately 450,000 Georgians are employed by nearly 10,000 manufacturing facilities -- accounting by some estimates for at least 10 percent of all jobs in the state.
Legislation a stamp of support for Georgia Manufacturers
As Steve McWilliams, executive vice president of the Georgia Forestry Association, recently wrote in his organization's magazine, " manufacturing continues as a vital component of Georgia's economy, providing thousands of the state's best-paying jobs and a vast array of the highest quality products for consumers and end users in the U.S. and throughout the world it is a huge inaccuracy and an injustice to suggest, or even imply, that the manufacturing sector is somehow fading away."
Thank goodness that is the case. Georgia manufacturers not only provide more jobs, pay more taxes and contribute more to our communities than many other sectors of the economy; they make the products that we all depend on in our everyday lives.
That said, I wonder if all of us in state government are aware of the vital role of manufacturing in our state and if we are doing all we can to help Georgia manufacturers meet the challenges they face in today's global economy. For example, why is Georgia the only southeastern state still charging a sales tax on the energy used in the manufacturing process? It seems to me the state government should put at least equal energy into helping our existing industries remain viable as we do in recruiting new business.
This is why a bipartisan team of co-sponsors and I have introduced Senate Bill 359, which would create a "Made in Georgia" campaign, designed to educate the public and to promote the sale of products that are indeed manufactured in Georgia, by Georgians. Under the legislation, a "Made in Georgia" campaign logo would be created for use as a stamp of certification on products produced in Georgia.
I am grateful to Senator Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) and Senator Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), among others, who are joining me in this effort. We will work in a bipartisan fashion with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to pass this measure in the Senate and encourage the House of Representatives to do the same.
The "Made in Georgia" initiative is already picking up support from groups supporting businesses and their employees around the state. The Georgia Forestry Association, Georgia Mining Association, and the Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association, among others, have endorsed this legislation. In addition, the Georgia AFL-CIO and other labor organizations representing Georgia workers are all on board promoting the passage of this bill.
This initiative will increase the awareness of the significant role of manufacturing in our state and raise the profile of Georgia's manufacturing impact on people, plants and products. Similar initiatives have been successful in several other states, including Alaska, Montana and South Carolina.
"Made in Georgia" is intended to serve as a reminder that our state's economic future is tied directly to the success of our manufacturing industry. We must do all we can to help boost the companies that are providing jobs and putting food on the tables of so many Georgia families.