In many ways, it’s a different world than when Governor Brian Kemp took office in January 2019. Since his inauguration, a global health crisis precipitated changes in supply chains, employment, and other elements of the economic landscape. Still, Georgia is thriving amid the challenges, due in part to Kemp’s commitment to facilitating a pro-business environment in both the state’s largest cities and less populated areas.
In 2019, Senate Bill 2 was signed into law to encourage electric cooperatives and community leaders to partner for creative solutions to bring high-speed internet to less-served areas. Since its passage, 236,000 homes and businesses have been connected to high-speed internet service.
That same year, his administration worked with the Georgia Department of Economic Development to launch the Rural Strike Team to bring local developers, elected officials, and industry leaders together to invigorate rural Georgia, resulting in huge investments and hiring blitzes from Sailfish Boats (Cairo), NanoPV (Americus), and Wayfair (Athens), to name just a few.
In December 2021, the state saw its lower-than-national average unemployment rate drop for the 20th consecutive month, while reporting a new all-time high for the number of individuals employed. In January 2022, Kemp announced that more than 97 percent of jobs lost due to the pandemic were regained.
Here Georgia’s 83rd governor shares some of his motivation and leadership philosophy.
It took courage to be the first state to reopen from lock downs. Why was that important to you?
When the pandemic hit, we made sure that was still our top priority and worked hard to protect both lives and livelihoods. When we decided to be the first state to reopen, we acted in the best interest of our state and its people. We were measured, and we considered all the facts and data. We received input from public health experts and business owners, and ultimately, we decided on a safe and appropriate path to our economic recovery. One of the many lessons we can take from the past couple of years is that lock downs and one-size-fits-none mandates don’t work.
What do you love most about living here?
I believe Georgia is the best state in the country to live, work, and raise a family. Our state is full of inspiring folks who have found countless opportunities to grow and thrive here. I’m proud that our state’s policies not only reflect the American dream, but the values of its people.
Why is supporting small businesses so important to you?
As a small business owner for over 35 years, I know what it’s like to depend on each paycheck to support your livelihood, family, and employees. Small businesses are the backbone of this state and nation, creating jobs for hardworking people and serving as pillars of local communities. Knowing the countless hours that go into building and maintaining a small business, I will always act to protect them and work with them to create opportunity.
How does your pre-politics experience as a business owner influence how you lead?
I was tired of government red tape making it more difficult for our business to be successful. Removing those burdens on job creators is a top priority. We created the Georgians First Commission and asked small business owners to tell us how we can make sure the government helps instead of hurts. I am proud of what we’ve done to foster a thriving business environment. There is still more work to do, but we will continue to stand up for those who make up the backbone of our state’s economy.