State of Growth

GaBiz Editor in Chief talks Georgia’s upward trajectory with GDEcD Chief Operating Officer Brittany H. Young.
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The Georgia business community continues its winning streak: Just last month, Governor Brian Kemp and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) announced that job creation and investments from economic development projects through the third quarter of fiscal year 2022 have already surpassed fiscal year 2021 year-end totals. Those 251 project locations are projected to generate more than 35,400 new jobs and $12.9 billion in investment for the state. Here, GDEcD Chief Operating Officer Brittany H. Young shares insights that matter to Georgia’s business community.

 

Considering the question central to the recently published premiere issue of GaBiz, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask, Why Georgia?  

We won’t give away all of our secret sauce, but we know that our logistical assets, talented labor pool, and pro-business environment are great for any company. Even more, the diversity of our state gives companies more options.

 

The new job and economic development numbers are huge. What’s contributing to these record-breaking figures, and can you give a few highlights?

Georgia has a lot to offer, but one asset that has stood out this year is Georgia Quick Start, which is the number one workforce-training program in the country. Quick Start is a tailored training program that identifies specific skill sets required by a company, develops a personalized training curriculum, and assists in the hiring process. The advanced manufacturing industry has significantly benefited from Quick Start, and projects like PepsiCo’s expansion in Tucker, Ecopol’s first American facility in Griffin, Aspen Aerogels’ manufacturing facility in Statesboro, and Ryder System’s new distribution facility in Locust Grove are just a few of the recent examples. These five projects alone created nearly 800 jobs in 2022, and many of them are in rural Georgia.

 

What new industries or trends are emerging in the types of companies coming to the state?

Companies from a variety of industries are coming to Georgia. We’ve seen growth in key sectors like automotive, advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, software and technology, and food processing. We have noticed that many established companies are choosing to expand in Georgia, and we’re attracting more companies from other parts of the country. Georgia’s competitive and pro-business environment is complemented by our moderate climate, lower cost of living, and variety of entertainment and leisure activities. Georgia’s small towns and thriving cities offer choices for remote workers and fit any company’s speed.

 

Rural economic development is a big focus of GDEcD and Governor Kemp. Can you share a recent success story or two? 

Numerous state economic development projects have chosen rural Georgia in the first four months of 2022 alone. Since you asked for stories, a couple of our major rural projects are expected to create exciting new jobs with a focus on the future. In February, Georgia-based recycled furniture manufacturer SoPoly announced plans to celebrate its first anniversary by expanding operations in Dodge County. The expansion will create about 200 jobs. SoPoly’s success doesn’t just demonstrate what rural Georgia has to offer—it also shows how Georgia is a great place for small businesses, which make up a little more than 99 percent of all businesses in the state. Recently, Jack Link’s announced that it is investing $450 million in a new manufacturing facility in Perry that will create 800 jobs. During our last fiscal year, job creation within this sector in Georgia increased by 232 percent compared to the previous year.

 

Are there any updates about Rivian you can share?  Have other companies announced plans to locate to Georgia as a result?

Updates are coming soon! As permitting and applications begin taking shape, georgia.org/rivian will be updated so Georgians and Georgia businesses can keep an eye on opportunities. Already, the company is meeting with the local communities to engage and maximize opportunities for the company, community, and state. Inquiries about project RFIs, RFPs listing, and supply chain outreach can be directed to georgia@rivian.com.

Nearby in Commerce, Ascend Elements and SK Innovation recently announced a partnership to recycle both cell and module lithium-ion battery manufacturing scrap from SK’s facility in Jackson County. Recycling operations and partnerships like these are vital for creating efficient, reliable supply chains.

For additional perspective, since Kia began operations nearly a decade ago, more than 15,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created, and the plant and its suppliers have an estimated annual economic impact of $4 billion. While Rivian is seeking vertical integration of some of its products, there will be supplier needs, and within the entire EV industry, we are seeing other new projects and expansions from global electric mobility suppliers like Duckyang, Enchem Ltd, TEKLAS, GEDIA, and more.

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