Gov. Nathan Deal today released comprehensive recommendations to ensure the short- and long-term success of job creation and business growth in Georgia. The final report of the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative, which will help shape Deal's economic development strategy for the state, outlines statewide opportunities, strategies and action steps as well as insights into the unique needs of each of the state's 12 regions. Visit www.georgiacompetitiveness.org to read the full report.
"Our goal is for Georgia to be the No. 1 state in the United States for business," said Deal. "Thanks to the input from thousands of business leaders in every region, we now have the information we need to develop and implement strategic changes to the state's existing assets, to ensure we continue to outpace our competition around the Southeast and the nation."
The initiative examined six key factors identified by site selectors as the most important influencers in corporate location and expansion decisions: infrastructure; innovation; education and workforce development; friendly business climate; global commerce; government efficiency. The final report identifies opportunities, strategies and action steps in each of these categories.
Education and workforce development was, by far, the category cited by survey respondents as the most critical area in need of attention. The Governor's Office of Workforce Development has already launched the "Go Build Georgia" program in response to feedback about the need for workforce in the skilled labor trades.
To enhance Georgia's business climate, the governor has proposed several legislative changes to the state's statutory incentives, including sales and use tax exemptions on energy used in manufacturing and for construction materials for competitive projects. Deal has also proposed a modernization of Georgia's job tax credit structure.
Many of the participants concerns' regarding transportation and infrastructure issues are being addressed in current initiatives, such as the upcoming referendum for the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 and the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The report reflects region-wide acknowledgement of the importance of Georgia's ports to global commerce, and the critical need to keep them and the state's other logistics assets competitive.
The Georgia Competitiveness Initiative is a public-private venture led by the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, along with a 23-member steering committee. Data was collected and compiled by UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
"What really struck us about this process as we gathered data, and again in the final report, was the remarkable similarity of opinion among the regions about the need for a sustained, quality workforce; a better accessibility to capital and the desire for reduced regulation, a universal support for innovation and small enterprise," said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "It has been a very, very rewarding process and will continue to be as we move into the implementation phase."
"We agree with Governor Deal that there is nothing more important for Georgia today than ensuring our competitiveness -- both with the rest of the nation and the world," said Chris Clark, president & CEO of the Georgia Chamber. "We were honored to be a part of this process and look forward to using what we learned to ensure that existing companies have what they need to be successful and to continue to attract new jobs and investment throughout the state."