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Six months into the year
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Well, I went back and looked over my “10 reasons to be optimistic about 2012” column just to see how Georgia is progressing this year. My estimation is “not too shabby.” Here are some selected reasons and current status:

Job growth — The state has had several major job announcements this first six months and apparently there is plenty of activity as on-shore manufacturing seems to be making a comeback. Job creation is up year-to-date over 10 percent over 2011 and total investment is up over $1 billion for 2012. Governor Deal’s initiative placing $99 million in foreclosure settlement funds into economic development insures Georgia will be able to compete for new and expanded businesses.

Georgia’s ports — Even in the face of slowing imports from China and the slowing of the world economy, Georgia’s ports have found a way to have an outstanding year six months into the fiscal year. The largest increase has been in roll-on-roll-off (Ro/Ro) cargo, vehicles and equipment, with volume at Brunswick’s facility increasing 57.7 percent since April 2011. Year-to-date, shipping of Ro/Ro is up 17.5 percent, making it the third busiest port for exports of U.S.-made vehicles and machinery. Container growth, even in the face of economic worldwide slowdown, likely will show an increase for the first six months.

Agriculture — While this is not a complete report, soybeans hit $15 a bushel last week and the first tropical storm in our neck of the woods saved a lot of the corn crop. Most farmers, though, take no chances anymore and have pivots over wells. Overall, the sweet onion crop was successful. Certainly the first six months have continued relatively good times for agriculture.

State revenues — Will be “good enough” to meet budget and other obligations as they have continued a general improvement glide. Not that there isn’t concern but that’s in the future … concern is better than the horror of the past four years revenues!

Stable leadership — Still “AAA” after all these years! — In the same week that big New York banks lost their “AAA” rating, Georgia sold $600 million in bonds, retaining its coveted highest rating. This AAA rating resulted in a rate of interest of 2.69 percent on tax-exempt bonds. These bonds, by the way are for the port-deepening project, K-12 schools, Regents construction projects and other infrastructure needs including reservoirs.

All in all, the “10 reasons to be optimistic” have mostly all proven to be “on target” and set the stage for a positive second six months of the calendar year.

Other musings
Georgia Credit Union Affiliates published its second quarter customer survey the other day and it held some interesting info and trends:

Savings are up by 5.5 percent, but over half of respondents are not satisfied with the amount they are saving.
Car loans are up substantially over a year ago, 3.89 percent in 2012 versus 0.52 percent a year ago.
Over the past 12 months, new car loans are up 6.89 percent and used vehicle loans up 7.08 percent.
Credit card balances are going down, off by 2.34 percent the first quarter of 2012.
See more at

Georgia taxes and spending under control — best in the U.S.?
The Tax Foundation released info recently showing two interesting facts about the states, including Georgia. First, they tracked increases in state government spending from 2000-10. At 28 percent, Georgia ranked 44th (high is good) nationwide but importantly came out very well in comparison to other Southern states with whom we compete: Florida, 36 percent; Tennessee, 36 percent; Texas, 37 percent; and South Carolina, 30 percent. Only North Carolina was better, if only slightly, at 27 percent increase over the 10 years.

The other category released recently was state tax collections per capita changes from 2000 to 2010. If I read it correctly, Georgia leads the country with a reduction in state tax collections on a per capita basis of a whopping -27 percent for the 10 years.

Many states were up, not down in spending and certainly population growth can play a roll. But it does indicate fiscal conservancy over the years even as the state grew rapidly. At No. 50, Georgia is at the top. Other states around us: Florida, -15 percent (and they grew certainly like Georgia), Alabama -7 percent, Texas -6 percent, South Carolina -22 percent, Tennessee -4 percent and North Carolina -6 percent. The only interpretation I can think of is that Georgia had conservative spending coupled with population growth which, of course, increases demands for services like education and infrastructure.

For more, see

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