I think this is 11 years we have been stopping and taking the time to look ahead to the next year with an optimistic point of view. We started writing this yearly “10 Reasons” during the Great Recession when optimism was hard to come by.
Now I know what you are thinking: “How can you be so pessimistic about state revenues and then come right out with optimism?”
It’s not that hard because there are many positives in our state right now. This column, “Ten Reasons,” is my way of ending the year on a high note and beginning a new decade primed for success for the state.
1. The funding to complete the deepening of the port in Savannah was included in the spending bill passed last week by Congress. The deepening is entering the final phases and will mean the port can handle the “Super” size ships easily.
2. The USMCA Trade bill and the China agreement is a great deal for Georgia’s farmers and means purchases of $40 billion in agricultural products from the U.S.
3. The announcement of flood warnings signaled the end of the drought that had plagued much of Georgia during the fall. Now spring planting can be anticipated and hopefully conditions will not be too wet either.
4. The Special Federal Master’s decision was a slam dunk for Georgia in the water wars with Florida. While that may not be the end, it was a near miss for farmers in SW Georgia already reeling from depressed commodity prices and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
5. The unemployment rate is one of the main economic markers every economic report includes. Georgia’s historically low rate, 3.3% at year’s end, signals virtual full employment in the state.
6. A great peach crop in 2019 re-established Georgia as the “Peach State” and with modern marketing methods by Georgia Peach farmers, the outlook for 2020 is the best in a while.
7. Georgia is anticipated to be a full participant in the continued economic expansion of the U.S. economy expected in 2020. Buoyed by strong consumer demand, the U.S. economy is predicted to continue to expand with solid job growth even at a slightly slower pace.
8. Being named by Site Selection magazine as the “Top State for Business” for 7 years in a row is a tribute to the business and job friendly environment fostered by Gov. Kemp and Legislative leaders. One of the Governor’s main focuses is elimination of red tape and making business applications, certifications, and renewals flow more freely.
9. Don’t take Georgia’s continued AAA bond rating for granted. Kentucky lost its AAA rating last year due to continued under-funding of pension systems. The rating is a continuing salute to the businesslike way Georgia handles its’ budget process, builds reserves, funds pensions, and the way the state has historically met shortfalls by reducing spending.
10. “Numbers Don’t Lie” Here are some numbers that point to Georgia’s outstanding success: $40.6 billion in Exports, Total Trade $139 Billion, $66.2 billion Economic Impact from Georgia’s Tourism industry, and 455 TV and film productions completed in Georgia with the film tax credit generating $9.5 billion in economic impact.