Georgia’s prowess to attract economic development involves measured incentives

This is a blog post by opinion editor Adam Van Brimmer originally posted to the “Savannah’s Town Square” Facebook group. Join the group on by searching for “Savannah’s Town Square”.

One of my old bosses used to say, “You don’t really want to know how sausage is made.”

When economic development is the issue and you’re a business nerd like me, however, you want to know as much as you can about the process so that you can measure the return on your investment.

My colleague Abraham Kenmore recently opened up this sausage casing with an in-depth, data-driven look at what makes Georgia the “# 1 state for doing business” in the eyes of economic development professionals.

The basic question was: How much are Georgia and local governments giving to attract new mega-employers? More importantly, does the return outweigh the incentives?

Like many warehouse and logistics companies in the region, Wayfair is currently recruiting.

This look behind the curtain was prompted by the state’s continued ability to attract large-scale manufacturers and other new employers, such as the SK battery plant at Commerce near Athens, and the purchase and construction work for the Bryan County Megasite, which promises to bring a major employer to our area very soon.

Bryan County Megasite Photos:Georgia Governor Kemp visits Bryan County megasite expected to attract employers

Kenmore looked at Georgia’s major economic development projects stretching back a decade and found that new employers have kept the jobs, wages and other key economic drivers promised. Moreover, while the incentives offered by state and local governments and economic development authorities were soft – tax breaks, free land, personalized infrastructure – they rarely worked to the detriment of the state or the communities that now house these employers.

As local economist Michael Toma of Georgia Southern University told Kenmore, “Georgia will deploy its incentives to compete with incentives offered by other states, but Georgia tends to be more conservative in its offer of these. incentives “.

Learn more about economist Michael Toma:Savannah sees rebound in jobs and local economy after COVID pandemic recession

It’s reassuring to hear. Longtime Georgians well remember the big plans that went to neighboring states, such as South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. We were told in many of these cases that companies were asking for more than Georgia was willing to offer, that the risk was too great, or the return on investment was too low.

In some cases, the Georgians have complained that we should have given up the farm to get these projects anyway.

Opinion writer Adam Van Brimmer

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As tempting as it may be to offer the ‘biggest and cheapest’ Georgia has done well in taking advantage of its advantages, such as our rapidly growing ports and rail and road infrastructure as well as a labor force. skilled and competent labor, and demanding high outputs.

As potential tenants explore the Bryan County megasite, and other businesses consider relocating to the Savannah Chatham Manufacturing Center as well as the Rockingham Farms site, it will be interesting to see how sausages are made in these agreements.

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