After Georgia completed a record year for economic development, Black entrepreneurs are looking for a boost in Colombia. Meanwhile, the state’s ties to South Korea are adding some steel, and Subway joins a growing Atlanta-based fast-food family.
State’s Development Accelerates
The Georgia Economic Development Department says it facilitated 426 new facilities and expansions announced in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023. Those projects represent more than $24 billion in investments and are expected to create 38,400 jobs.
The number of projects and the total investments in fiscal 2023 are up 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively, from the record 358 facilities and $21.2 billion in investments announced in fiscal 2022. The job total is down from more than 51,100 in fiscal 2022, when Rivian and Honda announced electric vehicle plants costing more than $10.5 billion and promising 15,600 jobs.
Counties outside the Atlanta metro area received more than 80 percent of the investments and new jobs in fiscal 2023. Those projects range from Qcells’ $2.5 billion expansion in solar module manufacturing in northwest Georgia to some $2 billion in new facilities for automotive suppliers drawn to the Savannah area by the construction of Hyundai’s Metaplant America.
“We are proud to work alongside our local communities to fulfill their unique long-term strategies, and without their diligent efforts our broad success would not be possible,” says Kristi Brigman, the state’s deputy economic development commissioner for global commerce.
Much of the economic development represents foreign investment. South Korea, Finland, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were Georgia’s top foreign job creators in fiscal 2023.
Going Back to Cali
Twenty Black Atlanta entrepreneurs moved to expand Georgia’s international connections with a trade mission to Colombia from Aug. 13 to 20.
In 2013, Georgia became the first U.S. state to open a trade office in Colombia, but the August trade mission, organized by the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and the Atlanta Black Chambers, was the first to focus on Black-owned businesses on both sides. And while the Georgia trade office is in Bogota, the mission went to Cali, considered a center of Colombia’s Black community.
Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ office, and the Colombian government supported the trip. The results, reflected in a RICE video, include sales, manufacturing, and connections for future ventures.
State Dripping in Inc.
Georgia’s economic success comes through in the latest Inc. 5000, the magazine’s annual ranking of the fastest-growing, privately held U.S. companies as measured by revenue growth from 2019 to 2022.
With 222 businesses on the list revealed in mid-August, Georgia ranks seventh, just behind Illinois (228) and well ahead of eighth-place Pennsylvania (158). The top four align with population: California, Texas, Florida, and New York. Fifth-place Virginia is the only smaller state ahead of Georgia.
The recognized companies range from 70th-ranked Peachtree Corners-based Fusus, a software company that saw revenue grow 6,709 percent over three years with its intelligence platform for public safety agencies, to EDS Service Solutions, a staffing firm in Cobb County’s Cumberland area, at No. 4,915.
The top company outside the Atlanta metro region is 808th-ranked tech consulting firm Responsive Technology Partners in Metter, an hour west of Savannah. Beyond tech, the list includes Columbus-based women’s clothing store Blushing Brunette Boutique (No. 1,042), Milledgeville-based Barbarakares In-Home Care Services (No. 1,344), and Eatonton-based construction company Cosmo Cabinets (No. 2,368).
Roark Eats Fresh
Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group is taking another bite out of the fast food industry, agreeing to buy the Subway sandwich chain for an undisclosed amount. The Wall Street Journal reported that Roark’s offer was $9.6 billion.
With $37 billion in assets, Roark already owns the likes of Arby’s, Dunkin’, and Jimmy John’s through its Inspire Brands portfolio, as well as such eateries as Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzky’s among its Focus Brands.
Subway has nearly 37,000 locations worldwide, including 20,000 in the United States, where it has just under a quarter of the market for sandwich and deli sales.
Building to Build Better
South Korean manufacturer Duckshin Housing is bringing 100 jobs to Athens with a $15 million plant that will make deck plates for building construction. Work on the facility should start this year, according to the Aug. 3 announcement.
Duckshin Chairman Myung Hwan Kim says Georgia’s many construction projects are a draw for the company, while Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson says having such a supplier in the state could reduce construction costs.
- The new federal Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health has made its first grant to a lab led by Philip Santangelo, a professor in the joint Emory University-Georgia Tech biomedical engineering department. The three-year, $24.8 million grant supports a project called Curing the Incurable via RNA-Encoded Immunogene Tuning (CUREIT), which aims to hone mRNA therapy to cure certain cancers and other diseases.
- Georgia’s Family Farm Share program, launched as a pilot in Waycross in 2021, has expanded to Savannah through a partnership between Georgia Organics and Savannah’s Forsyth Farmers Market. The program works with small farmers in a community-supported agriculture program that delivers fresh produce at low cost to families with young children. Savannah Family Farm Share aims to enroll 800 families in its first year, starting at the nonprofit Greenbriar Children’s Center.