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Georgia's economy may be bottoming out

The people's business

POSTED: May 27, 2009 1:32 p.m.
One of the challenges state governments face during difficult economics times, such as the current one, is that not only do states have less revenue, but they also have increased demand for government services as more people go on unemployment and utilize other government programs.
Last week, the April revenue numbers came out showing state tax collections were down 21 percent for April compared to April of last year. This brings the state’s year-to-date revenue decline to 9.5 percent.
Thankfully though, through the leadership of our governor and the fiscal discipline of the legislature over the past few years, we were able to build up our state’s “rainy day” fund, or the state’s reserves. It would have been very easy to squander this money through unnecessary spending or on pork projects much like Washington does. Instead, these reserve funds will allow the governor to fill holes created by the revenue shortfall and keep important government services operating through the fiscal year.
There are also signs of good news on the horizon too though. This past session the General Assembly trimmed and streamlined government, and passed a balanced budget by cutting the FY09 and FY10 budgets by a combined $4 billion without raising taxes. I believe that because we have not raised taxes and because we have continued to encourage and create incentives for small businesses and people to be productive, we are seeing signs that Georgia is attracting companies and quality growth to our state. Here are some signs that this is working, even during these challenging times.
According to a highly-respected national ranking of small business activity in the U.S, the just-released Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity shows that Georgia is home to 590 entrepreneurs per every 100,000 adults, moving the state from third in 2007 to number one this year. Additionally, Georgia ranks third in the U.S. in the number of companies on the 2008 Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies listing.
Already in fiscal 2009, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, assisted by Georgia Department of Economic Development representatives, have invested more than $354 million in locations and expansions. Georgia Department of Economic Development figures show that small business activity has increased 30 percent from April 2008 to April 2009, proof that the entrepreneurial spirit continues to be very high in the state regardless of economic conditions.
This was not an accident. Other states such as Michigan, California, New York and Pennsylvania have continued to spend themselves into debt and increase taxes on citizens and businesses. This has caused people and businesses in those states to leave and look at states such as Georgia.
At the beginning of this month, Chicken of the Sea announced it was opening a canning operation in Lyons. The company will create over 200 jobs and invest $20 million. This is wonderful news for our state.

Memorial Day
I encourage all of us as we enjoy this weekend to remember the significance of Memorial Day. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Many men and women have answered the call to duty and stood in harm’s way to defend this country and our freedoms. Many of these individuals paid the ultimate sacrifice and Memorial Day should be a time we remember their service to our country.
Georgia’s own 48th Brigade of the National Guard is deploying to Afghanistan this month. Let’s keep them in our prayers and do all that we can to support them and their families.

Williams serves as president pro tempore of the Georgia Senate. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Long County and part of Liberty. He can be reached at 404.656.0089 or by email at tommie.williams@Senate.ga.gov.

 

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