With the primary runoffs now a memory, Hinesville saw one candidate jumpstart her campaign for Georgia’s governor seat Thursday. Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams arrived in Hinesville to visit Coastal Solar Power LLC. The visit was an opportunity for Abrams to get some critical feedback concerning advanced energy jobs. One of the first stops on her “Statewide Jobs” tour, Abrams was quietly welcomed to the local business.
With a host of people in tow, including state Rep. Al Williams, Abrams spoke with Mike Croft, Coastal Solar’s site system analyst. He addressed the business’s operations and answered the gubernatorial candidate’s questions.
“When the sun comes up, the solar power comes up and starts working,” Croft said. “Renewable energy does have a place, and it does work.”
Coastal Solar Power principal owner and CEO Clay Sikes added that the solar energy company is working extensively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve been able to take some of their grant programs that weren’t even being used in this state, and we’ve learned how to write grants,” he said. “That’s helped us open many, many doors… introducing this opportunity of grants that are available extending to rural farmers and businesses.”
Abrams also addressed her campaign goals with the small group of community leaders and business people; specifically her plan to create 25,000 to 45,000 advanced energy jobs in solar, wind, hydro and biomass industries.
“I think there are tremendous opportunities for somebody in this race to identify what is available through renewable energy,” Sikes said. “It’s not made it to very many platforms, as you know, particularly on the Republican side.”
“There are so many things we need to address, and she has better knowledge,” Williams said. “She’s prepared, she knows the issues and she understands Georgia.”
Abrams’ plan consists of creating jobs in the renewable energy business, specifically focusing on keeping those jobs local, and turning Georgia into a state where advanced energy innovation is a core component of economic expansion, according to the campaign website. She first announced her plan last summer, promising to make it a priority if she becomes governor.
“If we build our own renewable advanced energy ecosystem in Georgia, those are the jobs that don’t go anywhere,” Abrams said. “Georgia is uniquely positioned as one of two states that can do hydro, biomass, wind and solar.”
The website states that Georgia can deliver high-quality employment for the state by creating an economy that leads the nation in these advanced energy jobs. By using the people, the climate, and ingenuity, it will expand the path to prosperity for all.
Abrams’ visit to Hinesville shows she takes the time to meet and listen to residents she could potentially represent, Williams said.
“She’s not taking anything for granted. It’s nice and quite refreshing to see someone come and know that we’re still in the game,” he said.
Abrams began as a tax attorney working in Atlanta, and later moved into the position of deputy city attorney for Atlanta. She spent a lot of time interpreting the laws of Georgia, which prompted her to run for state legislature.
“One reason I ran, is when you serve as someone who interprets these laws, you begin to see the discrepancies,” Abrams said. “I want to bring a strong awareness of that disconnect to the governor’s office.
After Abrams left Coastal Solar, she greeted supporters on the front steps of the Liberty County Justice Center on South Main Street.
Abrams held a press conference on jobs in Atlanta yesterday, and will continue her jobs tour today with stops in Macon.