Whether it’s a world-class automobile, a Peabody Award-winning film or television show, life-saving medicine or a secure payment processing system – there’s a good chance it was made in Georgia. The diversity of Georgia’s economy has always been something the Georgia Department of Economic Development has worked toward and celebrated.

Now, as the state looks ahead, this diverse economic base and the fundamentals that have made Georgia strong continue to provide a source of promise and good news, despite challenges from COVID-19.

Recently, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that job creation from new projects in Georgia during July and August alone has already reached one-third of the total jobs reported for fiscal year 2020, and is 1.5 times higher than jobs created during same time period last year.

During the month of August alone, the state attracted 4,062 jobs and generated more than $642 million in investment. These jobs and investments were not isolated to one region or one industry. They reached nearly every corner of the state, and at nearly every skill level.

Between March 14 and Sept. 14, the state attracted 150 new projects, delivering 16,215 jobs and $3.66 billion in investment. Even while facing a global pandemic, jobs and investment numbers both increased by more than 30% when compared to the same time period last year.

Our local economic development partners in Northwest Georgia are part of this good news. They continue to seek economic advancement opportunities for their communities, like those provided by the new inland port in Murray County.

From GEDIA choosing Dalton for its first Southeastern U.S. manufacturing facility of electrical vehicle parts to flooring companies including CFL, Huali Floors, Novalis Flooring, Mannington Mills, and Try-Con Tufters – all recently establishing or expanding their presence in the region – Northwest Georgia is further cementing its position as an advanced manufacturing powerhouse.

At the beginning of September, Gov. Kemp announced that Georgia was named the “Top State for Doing Business” for a record-breaking seventh year in a row by Area Development, and in late July, Business Facilities Magazine named Georgia the No. 1 Film Production Leader in the nation. Atlanta was also recognized by Business Facilities as the No. 1 Tech Hub in the U.S., and Georgia earned our 12th “Shovel Award” for economic development in June.

The positive data is more than just numbers, and top designations we’ve earned consistently for nearly a decade aren’t about trophies. They are opportunities built from relationships and investments that our state has spent years developing.

Some of those fundamental relationships are our international partnerships, which continue to reap opportunities for Georgians. In March, Gov. Kemp announced Ireland-based Kerry Group’s plans to invest $125 million in its Rome expansion, bringing more than 100 full-time positions to Floyd County.

The state also recently announced the Georgia’s new representation for Canada. Mr. Ludovic Ortuno will direct a team based in Montréal, who will continue to advance Georgia’s vital relationship with our number one export partner, support existing Canadian companies in the state, and explore new opportunities provided by the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal. International relationships like the one we’ve fostered with Canada will prove vital to Georgians and Georgia businesses large and small in the future. And our new Export Georgia, USA Directory will provide a menu of Georgia exporters and give them greater access to global markets.

After a hiatus, the film and television productions Georgia has become known for hosting, are safely getting up and running across the state again, too.

Our arts communities have also been dealt a tough hand by COVID-19. That’s why the Georgia Council for the Arts, one of the divisions within our economic development organization, is working with our local creative industries to provide a lifeline through both state and federal grants, especially as people crave connectivity and creative escapes.

From the Calhoun Gordon Arts Council and the Blue Ridge Community Theater, to the Gilmer Arts and Heritage Association, GCA is committed to connecting local arts organizations with grants and resources. We want them to not only continue to inspire and educate their communities, but also attract tourists and remain players in the local economy.

Creating jobs and opportunities for Georgians is at the core of GDEcD’s mission. While COVID-19 has brought hardship, it has also served as a reminder that strong partnerships, both domestic and international, matter. Our department is committed to ensuring that Georgia’s economy remains resilient so we can continue to deliver good news in the forms of jobs and opportunities.

We thank Gov. Kemp, the Georgia General Assembly, and our public and private economic development partners for their support.

Pat Wilson is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

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