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Ten reasons for economic optimism
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With the job losses and Georgia’s unemployment rate hovering at 7.5 percent, a 25-year high, it is difficult to be positive. But we should not lose sight of the positives that exist and the underpinnings of our state and nation that will help us out of the current economic condition.
So, grasping the optimism of the New Year, here are 10 reasons to be optimistic about the future of Georgia.
1. You have to be optimistic with President-elect Obama’s initial decision-making. He appears to be methodical and thoughtful and has built confidence with his cabinet appointments. Politics aside, our country needs for him to be successful.
2. Another reason to be optimistic about Obama is that he is relying on Sam Nunn for advice on defense and national security. That is encouraging as we all have confidence in Nunn’s judgment. Hopefully, that relationship will continue.
3. Admittedly, Georgia has a difficult financial year ahead. But we are pretty well prepared to meet the challenges. Georgia now has a $1.2 billion reserve. After the midyear education funds are allocated, there will still be more than $1 billion. All funds above the 3 percent mandatory reserve could be appropriated.
4. The incredible drop in oil prices gives reasons to be optimistic. Of course, the price of fuel permeates our whole economy from trucking to commuting. So this decrease is welcomed and puts money back in consumers’ pockets.
5. The stock market’s fall has had a tremendous effect on citizens who have 401(k)s and on the business community. Many insiders predicted there would be no upward movement until the Dow Jones dropped to 7500. Well, it did that a few weeks ago and the market has generally been headed up since, gaining about 1,000 points. Maybe the worst is over.
6. Food prices have started declining. Commodity and poultry prices are down, and competition is starting to force prices lower. Beef and pork have already dropped around 10 percent, and many other foods are starting to be featured at previous prices.
7. The military buildup on both sides of the state will bring growth, and a boost to the housing markets in Liberty County and coastal Georgia and in the Columbus area. The Fort Benning buildup will approximate the size of a whole new county.
8. Georgia has already suffered the closure of its two USA automobile manufacturing plants, and any future job losses by those companies will have less effect in Georgia. Certainly any dealerships lost will result in job loss, but manufacturing-wise, Georgia is stable with a bright future. The KIA plant coming online produces the fuel-efficient size automobiles to fit the current and future market. The Volkswagen plant just across the state line in Tennessee will bring related supplier jobs to Georgia and again, those autos are built for the future market. Additionally, the Brunswick Port has become a huge port for exporting automobiles manufactured in the South by foreign companies.
9. Maybe the most important reason to be optimistic is that the U.S. economy is still the most resilient in the world, and this country still has the ingenuity and energy to respond to opportunities and challenges. Historically, the USA has risen to its greatest heights when the need was most severe, and we can this time as well.
10. There is a spirit of helping others that still lives in this country that is rooted in our history of helping the less fortunate. Some of the greatest stories of sacrifice for others came in the midst of The Great Depression. For example, the Savannah-area United Way completed its campaign recently and exceeded the target for this year. Individuals and companies, even in these difficult times, are contributing heavily to agencies like food banks. This charitable good will for our fellow man is uniquely American.
So, no matter what the next few months bring, Georgia and our country will weather it and emerge stronger than ever.

Hill, a Republican from Reidsville, is chairman of the Georgia Senate Appropriations Committee.
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