One of the stops on my daily check of local and state news is that of Governor Deal’s press office. For every month that he announces that revenues are up, people get appointed to various boards, etc. come job announcements. Not being a born-and-raised Georgian, I couldn’t name more than a dozen counties in the state. Hence, I am constantly consulting Google Maps as to just where all these jobs are landing.
Now, I’m no geography major or cartographer…but something seems to be a bit off. Of the ten major announcements that Governor Deal has made since May 1st, not a single one has been for the addition of jobs anywhere south of I-20 (save for one lone expansion in Effingham County).
I understand that Atlanta is the only true ‘major metro’ in the state, and continues to grow rapidly. My question is simply this- why is the rest of the state getting largely ignored by the governor’s economic development office? As per the 2010 Census, the Atlanta MSA had 5.46M residents. The rest of the state? Nearly 4 million people.
Below are, from the Governor’s own website, a list of the companies ‘he has attracted’ or was ‘proud to announce the expansion’ of since May 1:
ExactTarget- 225 jobs in Atlanta.
Mattex-200 jobs in Murray County.
Hitachi- 250 jobs in Walton County.
PulteGroup- 310 jobs in Atlanta.
AT&T-1000 jobs in metro Atlanta.
athenahealth (expansion)- 500 jobs in Atlanta.
Inalfa Roof Systems- 300 jobs in Cherokee County.
Trident Seafood- 175- jobs in Carroll County.
Hubei Xingfa Chemical- 50 jobs in Effingham County.
TravelSky Technology Ltd- 50 jobs in Duluth.
In all, that is 3,060 jobs that have come (or will be coming) to Georgia over the past 90 days or so. Of those, a whopping 1.6 percent are coming south of Interstate 20.
As of July 2013, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the ‘Southern Georgia Region’ (inc. Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Pierce, Tift, Turner, and Ware counties) is a whopping 10.2 percent.
Our local Chambers can only do so much with limited resources- the fact that 98.4 percent of all new jobs the Governor is touting makes me wonder if south Georgia is ever mentioned to prospects that meet with our state’s leader.