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700 columns later ...

POSTED: October 4, 2017 6:29 a.m.

ek would be the 700th NOTES FROM THE SENATE, I was a little taken aback.
Don’t think we have missed many weeks over the years. So if we normally would publish about 52 per year, then we’ve been cranking these out for about 13 and one half years which would put the beginning date sometime in 2003. So I guess it coincided with the Appropriations Committee responsibility which began in 2003.

Thank you’s to:
I have had a lot of assistance through the years because, frankly, the hardest part is the research. All of the analysts in the Senate Budget and Evaluation Office have pursued for me countless projects studying the state budget and the path of the state. When I needed them, the Senate Research Office was always helpful. And we have leaned on various departments for information often and hopefully our research and analysis has been helpful to all.

Days of darkness
We went through some very difficult times during the Great Recession and, especially early on, I was portrayed as the voice of doom. Unfortunately, it was worse than I ever thought it would be and this column helped to put into focus the painful trends the state was following. And even though state revenues in the end dropped $4 billion or so, state leaders and state departments managed their way through the budget cuts without drastically affecting state services and without raising taxes, a feat I still see as state government’s finest hour.
I don’t apologize for the small raises the Governor and Legislature has passed on to state employees in the last few budgets even though we have been criticized for “growing the budget.” I know that a number of years went by before anyone got any kind of raise.
The yearly tradition of the column “TEN REASONS TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE COMING YEAR” grew out of my attempt to find encouraging signs even in the worst of times. I have a notebook with all of those columns and you ought to see what passed for good news back in 2010, 2011and 2012.
So, maybe I relish the good times the state is experiencing these days more than most. And maybe that is why we keep returning to the progress the state is making and trying to impress on all who will listen, that Georgia is unique and prospering beyond almost any other state.
So, for the 700th Column, here’s some more good news!

A banner year for economic development
On Sept. 19, Governor Deal announced the record of the Global Commerce Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development for Fiscal Year 2017, running from June 2016 to July of 2017.
First and most importantly, the development numbers include existing industry expansions as well as locations of new businesses to the state.
The numbers are staggering: 377 companies either expanded or relocated to Georgia in this fiscal year.
The projects created an incredible 30,309 new jobs and resulted in $6.33 Billion in new investment.
The encouraging fact is that 59 percent of the total jobs created, 17,865, were due to expansion of businesses already located in the state. Existing industry employers invested 58 percent of the total new investment, some $3.7 billion.
The balance, 12,444 jobs, or 41 percent was created by businesses new to the state. And businesses coming to the state invested $2.64 billion to create those jobs.

Growth sectors
Georgia’s financial technology sector saw the most significant job growth, increasing 250 percent over the previous year. Software and technology industry projects grew by 30 percent; some 42 projects representing 9,821 jobs and $1.4 billion in investment. There were significant increases in the state’s workforce in: logistics and distribution (85 percent), automotive (95 percent) and digital media (97 percent). The food processing area also increased 119 percent in projects for the year.

Internal investment soars — all of Georgia benefits
Some 80 percent of total economic development announcements were outside the Atlanta area. Eight y-six Foreign Direct Investment International Projects created over 6000 jobs and generated $1.6 billion in investments.
European companies invested in 51 locations creating 4,468 jobs and generating $809 million in investment.
Asian companies invested in 22 locations, creating 1,445 and $751 million in investment with companies from China, Japan and South Korea providing the majority.
Canada continued to be a major trading partner along with the Middle East investing $34 million and $20.4 million respectively. The Entrepreneur and Small Business team served 1,760 companies in which 60 percent were startup companies.

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