Now that the 2011 session of the Georgia General Assembly is under way, it is clear that our elected leaders will be working diligently to improve our state’s economy and create new jobs. While tax collections have steadily risen over the past few months, unemployment remains high, and we still face a long road to recovery.
As the state’s leading business advocacy organization, the Georgia Chamber believes that our economic recovery and long-term growth depend on our ability to enhance Georgia’s global competitiveness.
With that in mind, our organization has developed a list of priorities that we believe should be considered during the legislature’s 40-day term, each of which are critical to creating an environment in which businesses of all sizes and industries can thrive. These include:
Ensuring that Georgia’s tax system is designed in a way that stimulates economic growth and fosters job creation
Restructuring economic development incentives to support existing industries as well as small and emerging businesses
Expanding our state’s water supply in a way that protects our environment while ensuring access to this precious resource
Investing in our growing system of ports and in particular, securing funding for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor
Guaranteeing the long-term availability and quality of our state’s workforce through the continuation and strategic management of lottery-funded college and pre-K programs
Providing expanded educational options such as charter schools and online learning programs so that all students have the best chance at a quality education
Controlling cost increases or regulatory burdens resulting from the implementation of federal health care reform so that employers can continue to provide this important benefit
Improving our state’s transportation infrastructure, a vital component to not only our economy, but our quality of life
While this list may seem lengthy, each of these matters is too important to ignore — especially in today’s economic environment. There is not a state or nation that is not considering these same factors as we all compete for jobs, work to keep the companies we have, and strive for new investment.
The Georgia Chamber is not just asking our elected leaders to focus on these key issues — we are offering our assistance as they work to identify and implement solutions. We are proud to answer Governor Deal’s call to focus on competitiveness, and look forward to working with him and the state’s Department of Economic Development to build a strategy for job creation and economic growth.
As the saying goes “failure is not an option” — and it will take all of us working together to achieve the success our state deserves.
Doug Carter is the 2011 chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the president of Don Carter Realty in Gainesville.