Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp visited and toured Roper Corp. in LaFayette on Friday, Sept. 20, as part of his “Georgia Made” tour to highlight Georgia-made products and bring new business to rural parts of the state.

Lois Crandell, Roper president and plant leader, introduced the governor and said that with more than 2,000 employees and more than a million cooking products produced annually at the Roper plant, GE Appliances (GEA), a Haier company, is dedicated to making it one of the best places to work in Georgia.

Gov. Kemp began his speech by showing appreciation towards Roper and its leaders as well the community and business leaders in the area.

“We are excited about Georgia Made,” Kemp said.

During his speech, Kemp emphasized the importance of Georgians buying and supporting Georgia-made products.

Roper was the third stop on the Georgia Made tour. For the next several months Kemp and his team will travel throughout the state to show support and raise awareness for local businesses like Roper.

In June 2019, Kemp announced a growth initiative that included a $43 million investment in Roper, as well as the addition of 100 new jobs.

“I know first-hand that rural Georgia is ripe for investment and economic growth,” Kemp said.

Kemp said, as of last week, Georgia was named the top state for business for the sixth year in a row, which includes cooperative and responsive state government, workforce development, competitive labor environment and speed of permitting.

Kemp said that as Georgia appreciates and realizes the fact that Atlanta is the state capital and serves as the logistics hub for the state, 74 percent of the total economic development announcements in 2019 were made outside of the perimeter in Atlanta.

Another record was broken in August, Kemp said, as 20,800 jobs were added in the state, the highest of any August in 20 years.

Kemp said a Rural Strike Team was created by hardworking Georgians who work to raise the visibility of regional economic development assets, specifically the large industrial sites outside metro-Atlanta.

Kemp said big projects can be landed in rural communities across the state and the expansion of jobs at Roper adds up and “moves the needle” forward for rural Georgia.

Last week, Kemp announced the creation of a rural economic development coordinator position within state government. The coordinator will work with a variety of local and state organizations to ensure maximum impact.

“I want to be very clear. The Strike Team and the Rural Economic Development coordinator will not take over, but rather we will be working with each of these groups to ensure that we’re all pulling the plow in the same direction.”

Kemp closed his speech by saying that with working together, Georgia will continue to be the No. 1 state for business as well as the top state for small business.

“I believe that we can fully embrace economic opportunities that exist in small towns, in counties and communities like this,” Kemp said.

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