Georgia is setting the right course to attract new businesses and jobs in coming years, a state Chamber of Commerce official told local leaders Thursday.
Chris Clark, the president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said state officials and legislators are doing a good job setting policies and making laws that make Georgia one of the most competitive states in the U.S. for attracting business investment.
“Georgia’s business climate is making the difference in this competition,” Clark said in his keynote address at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce’s Post-Legislative Breakfast event at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
Clark said the state Chamber monitored more than 300 pieces of legislation during the 40-day session of the state General Assembly this year, examining the potential economic impacts for the business community. In all, the group provided legislators with guidance on more than 70 bills, supporting 44 that it determined would have positive effects for business and the state’s economy.
One such bill Clark cited was signed into law in Augusta a few weeks ago by Gov. Nathan Deal. The law allows local governments to set rules for allowing golf carts on city streets, which Clark said was sure to provide a boost to local manufacturers of those vehicles, Club Car and E-Z-GO.
Clark said Georgia has had other successes, such as providing tax incentives to the film and TV industry, which has attracted hundreds of new productions to the state since 2004.
“It is a $7 billion per year boost to the Georgia economy,” he said.
Clark applauded the state legislatures work this year in designating funds to begin the deepening of Savannah’s harbor, even though expected federal funding has yet to materialize. He said his organization will be continue its lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. to encourage full funding of that project, which he said will have a “big economic impact on every single county in Georgia.”
State Rep. Barry Fleming, who also spoke about improving the state’s business climate, said he was hopeful that a referendum capping the state income tax at 6 percent, would be passed by voters in November. He said it was a beginning step toward the goal of eliminating the state’s income tax altogether. Fleming said doing away with that tax will make Georgia even more competitive in years to come and result in more high-paid jobs and business investment.
“I believe the income tax is one of the most destructive things in this society because it punishes success,” he said.