At the Gwinnett Chamber On Topic Luncheon presented by Porter Steel, Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development Pat Wilson opened his remarks with a resounding congratulations on the organization’s recent ‘Chamber of the Year’ designation. “When you look at the state of Georgia, and even the Southeast region of the U.S., we are surrounded by some fiercely competitive markets,” said Wilson. “To be the best among thousands from throughout the nation is quite the achievement.” And just like that, the best business community in North America was all ears.
Of course, the Georgia native and University of Georgia (UGA) alum had to include a reference to UGA’s back-to-back national football championships. He used the team’s 40-year history of “ever working but never able to finish the job” to describe Georgia’s economic development story. For decades, and regardless of political persuasion, leaders have invested in a pro-business climate for the state, passing laws and implementing policies that have been foundational to the unprecedented success we are realizing today. Wilson called today the “good old days” for Georgia, and he could not have been more spot-on. In its last year, Georgia has worked 426 projects to produce more than 38,000 new jobs for Georgians representing roughly $24.26 billion in capital investment. Throw in projects like Rivian and Hyundai – the two largest projects in Georgia’s history – being solidified in a single year and it’s no wonder why Georgia has been the top state for business nine years in a row according to Area Development Magazine. Wilson went on to highlight the global business impact Georgia has seen, pointing out that $10.3 billion of capital investment in the last year has come from South Korean businesses. Other notable foreign direct investments include companies from Norway ($2.6B), Finland ($750M), and Japan ($630M) among others.
Likely the best part of the presentation was when the Commissioner drove home who is responsible for all this success. “Business communities are driving economic development,” stated Wilson. He noted that there is no better way to lift a community, spur growth and opportunity, and offer hope than to give someone a job, and it is the businesses that do this. “Every time a job is added, a facility is expanded, or a company contributes to the tax base, that is economic development,” shared Wilson. Perhaps that is why Gwinnett is the best business community in the nation. And just perhaps, the best is still yet to come for the great state of Georgia.