Classic South is what the state has named our 13-county region here in the eastern section of Georgia. That is a very appropriate description of what you'll find in our local community as well.
The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce is proud to serve the fastest-growing county in the Classic South region. There are many reasons for the tremendous growth we've experienced over the past 20 years: a burgeoning and diversified job market, a premier school system, affordable land, open spaces lending an air of the countryside, and a stable, conservative county government.
We are also known for our balmy climate and more than 1,200 miles of shoreline on beautiful Clarks Hill Lake. These natural resources have resulted in Columbia County blossoming into an upscale area with several public and private golf courses, fishing and recreational park facilities and varied cultural arts.
Columbia County is one of the healthiest economic areas of Georgia to conduct and locate a business due to its hospitable climate, excellent education system, skilled workforce and high quality of life.
It's a great place to live too: In 2005, CNN/Money Magazine ranked Evans as number 32 on the list of best places to live in America. In 2007, it ranked Martinez as the 76th best place to live in America. These unsolicited rankings are a testament to the county's diversity, economic strength and quality of life.
In conjunction with its rapid population growth, Columbia County has drawn the attention of first-rate national and international companies. We have attracted numerous top-notch, global manufacturers who have chosen Columbia County as a place to do business. John Deere, Club Car and Georgia Iron Works are just a few of the major companies currently reaping the benefits of doing business in our community.
Columbia County businesses enjoy all of the following:
- Fair and reasonable tax rates collected by a responsive and efficient local government (one of only five counties in Georgia with an AA bond rating).
- First rate utilities and large transportation networks.
- A "Blue Ribbon" school system with four colleges and universities in the area.
- A highly motivated, well-educated, capable workforce of hard-working area citizens; 87.9 percent of Columbia County adults are at least high school graduates " that's 7.5 percent higher than the national average and 9.3 percent higher than the state average.
- A cost of living roughly 10 percent lower than the national average.
- Nationally recognized low cost for doing business.
- Eligibility for a variety of competitive state and local incentives.
As a result of exemplary planning and growth management efforts, Columbia County has maintained its traditional character and Southern charm in the face of unprecedented population and business growth. Unlike other suburban communities that have faced great surges in population growth over the past several years, Columbia County is still able to offer a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing blend of residential, recreational, commercial and industrial districts.
Recently, our population reached that magical 100,000 mark. Only time will tell how this will impact business growth, but odds are the changes will be significant. The county's government and educational systems plan with the future in mind as evidenced by numerous new schools, infrastructure expansions, new libraries, shopping centers and recreational facilities.
Columbia County is ready, willing and able to accommodate the changes this surge in population will bring. These are exciting times in our county. While other parts of the country are struggling, the Central Savannah River Area and Columbia County are flourishing.
Please take the opportunity to find out what Columbia County has to offer during your Masters week visit. Better yet, plan to return in the very near future to find out more of the county's offerings and enjoy its natural gifts. You will find that Southern hospitality and charm exists throughout the year.
(Karen Chrjapin is executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.)
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