Business environment looks peachy in Georgia

Staff Report
colanews@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 1, 2014

ATLANTA – The past year provided some heady moments for Georgia as Gov. Nathan Neal got to brag about the Peach State’s rapid pace in creating jobs and its selection by a Site Selection magazine as the nation’s no. 1 state for business.

“Making Georgia the premiere state in the nation for business has been a strategic goal from Day One of my administration,” Deal said. “We have worked hard to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate business needs not only today, but in the future.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Neal offers remarks during the Oct. 31 grand opening of Caterpillar’s new plant near Athens, Ga. (Photo provided by Gov. Nathan Neal)
Georgia Gov. Nathan Neal offers remarks during the Oct. 31 grand opening of Caterpillar’s new plant near Athens, Ga. (Photo provided by Gov. Nathan Neal)
Caterpillar CEO Douglas Oberhelman (left) and Georgia Gov. Nathan Neal check out an excavator produced at the company’s new manufacturing facility near Athens, Ga. (Photo provided by Gov. Nathan Neal)
Caterpillar CEO Douglas Oberhelman (left) and Georgia Gov. Nathan Neal check out an excavator produced at the company’s new manufacturing facility near Athens, Ga. (Photo provided by Gov. Nathan Neal)

Just before Christmas, the Global Commerce Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development reported a 10% increase in job creation during the state’s most recent fiscal year.

Statistics from the department show 389 expansion or location announcements generated 31,656 jobs and $6.07 billion in investment. These statistics indicate a continued trend of growth since the state’s 2009 fiscal year.

“These outstanding results indicate that Georgia is already perceived by companies, large and small, as the No. 1 place for business,” Deal said. “We will continue to cultivate a healthy, resourceful business environment that will attract the corporate expansion activity so important to providing greater opportunities for our citizens.”

The increase in jobs and investment during fiscal year 2013 came about despite a 6% dip in the number of projects worked by agency’s Global Commerce Division. Also, the state faced the challenge of overcoming high numbers posted the previous year that were the result of major job economic development announcements by Caterpillar Inc. and Baxter International. The companies announced separate projects expected to lead to the creation of nearly 3,000 jobs.

Of the total projects announced in 2013, 66% were existing business expansions and 34% of the projects were from companies investing in Georgia for the first time.

A quarter of the new locations were by international companies establishing regional or hemispherical operations in Georgia. These international companies represented 1,187 jobs and $294 million in investment capital.

Expansions of existing Georgia industries created 16,969 jobs, 54% of the total job creation, and $4.34 billion in investment — almost three quarters of the total fiscal year investment.

The state’s Entrepreneur and Small Business Office counted 1,138 startups and small businesses during the year, while 60% of the 1,050 companies served by the Existing Industry Team had fewer than 100 employees.

The International Trade Division reported it served 1,346 companies last year, a 21% increase.

“Georgia is a regular top finisher in our annual analysis of state business climates, with five Top 10 placements in the last five years,” said Mark Arend, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.

“Executives at companies investing there regularly point to its many logistics advantages, cutting edge work-force training programs, particularly Quick Start, and proactive economic developers on the state and local levels who understand the business requirements of today’s capital investors.”

The magazine’s rankings are based on its own research, a survey of corporate real estate executives, an index of tax burden, and performance in Conway Data’s New Plant Report, which tracks new and expanded business facility activity.

Georgia has ranked among the top 10 states in Site Selection’s business climate rankings over the last 10 years, and moved up from No. 4 in 2012.

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