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Governor visits business expo in Hinesville

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POSTED: June 15, 2009 10:16 a.m.
Photo by Alena Parker/

Mike Beatty, state Department of Community Affairs commissioner, followed Gov. Perdue and bolstered crowds with a "Team Georgia" motto to encourage agencies and individuals to work together to get through a tough economy.

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In a historic stop in Liberty County, Gov. Sonny Perdue promised crowds at Savannah Technical College on Friday the state will bounce back from a stagnant economy.
“You can tell by my dress that I’m really stressed by all this, right?” joked the governor, who wore a polo shirt and khakis. “Georgia is going to be a bright spot again.”
Perdue’s visit was part of a two-day, statewide Business and Housing Expo to help restore confidence in the current economy, which is ridden with buyouts, layoffs and foreclosures.
“Often times, when we get in economic situations as we are now, people don’t know exactly where to turn,” Perdue said.
However, he continued, the state’s technical college system has the tools to help people build value in themselves through better job skills and preparation.
“We can’t predict when this economic rainstorm is going to stop, but, folks, it’s time to get in ourselves and our communities and build that core structure,” Perdue said.
Money and resources are there, according to the governor, but Georgia residents may not know what state agencies have to offer.
“We’re not insensitive to the plight of personal situations that people are undergoing,” Perdue said, mentioning housing and unemployment.
In fact, many of the nearly 100 who already strolled through the 22 exhibitors by noon wanted to know how to buy a home, according to Patrick McNally, a Department of Community Affairs representative.
“Affordable housing is a big concern for a lot of people,” McNally said. “Banks are clamping down on lending. People who are trying to find affordable rentals are struggling because it’s kind of a ripple effect.”
The housing market isn’t alone in its suffer-
ing. Businesses of all sizes have suffered in recent months.
State Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, reported a 33 percent sales dip in his own business.
“A lot of businesses are off,” Williams said. “That’s why people are laying off people, making those adjustments in their business.”
When it comes to economic development, Perdue said he has worked to make sure there is an equitable division of wealth across the state.
“We can’t continue to grow in the metro area, if we don’t share that job growth all over,” Perdue said, referring to the new state NCR plant, which will offer a $35 million payroll for some 2,000 jobs.
“Not everybody is good in everything,” Perdue said. “But, overall, our economic development, probably in the last two or three years, has done really well with the amount of jobs created throughout the state.”
Sheila Waldron, who was stationed at the DCA booth at the expo, informed passersby of about $14,000 available in a down
payment assistance program. 
“If they buy a foreclosed property, they can use it for rehab or down payment,” Waldron said. “It’s been very popular.”
About $5 million in federal stimulus funds made the new program possible.
 

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