LEESBURG -- Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told area leaders that the state of Georgia "wants to be a partner in your growth" during a stop at one of Lee County's fastest growing retail corridors.
"There was a time when the governor and lieutenant governor did not make appearances at major groundbreakings across the state," Cagle told a gathering of some 75 people adjacent to the Publix Supermarket development Monday at the junction of U.S. Highway 19 and Forrester Parkway. "But, in today's economy, we often measure our successes now in feet rather than yards.
"I'm pleased to be here where this development is going on. And I'm looking forward to seeing that the state remains your partner in these developments for the long-term."
William Hancock, who recently completed a term as the division chairman of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Affairs Committee and a local commercial broker with Webb Properties of Albany, lauded the commitment to growth in one of the state's fastest growing regions.
"We all hear doom and gloom, but if you look around you see that in all the economic turmoil, we are still making progress," he said.
Cagle, who left Leesburg for a campaign event in Vidalia, said Lee County is strategically located for continued growth. He noted its proximity to both Atlanta and Orlando, Fla.
"The rooftops in this community will support a lot of retail growth," he said. "And it's a community that supports innovation."
The lieutenant governor said legislators must prioritize as they look to trim even more from the state's budget during the 2010 legislative session.
"The harsh reality is that we must cut an additional $1.5 billion out of a $16 billion budget," Cagle said. "What that means is we have to determine priorities. We have to focus on what's important to the state, and that means we have to focus on jobs.
"People say Casey Cagle is one pro-business legislator, or lieutenant governor, and that's true. That's because I believe behind every job is a face, and behind every face is a family."
House District 152 Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, introduced Cagle to a gathering that included state Sen. Dickie Crosby, R-Tifton, Rep. Bob Hanner, D-Parrott, Lee County Commissioners Ed Duffy, Rick Muggridge, Bill Williams, Betty Johnson and Dennis Roland, Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn and Lee City Councilwoman Judy Powell.
"Casey's not only a friend to the people of Southwest Georgia, I consider him a personal friend," Rynders said. "He's always welcomed me with open arms and an open door to discuss the issues that concern our region."
Cagle lauded Gov. Sonny Perdue's planned summit today with Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to discuss tri-state water issues and reassured the region "no matter what happens upstream, we will keep in mind downstream users."
The lieutenant governor also praised the efforts of Lee County economic development leaders.
"I'm convinced we will endure this (economy)," he said. "And that's why I'm excited to be in Lee County, where you still see development and private investment. We celebrate that investment in jobs and in infrastructure."