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Georgia Chamber president discusses economic issues

Chris Clark, president and CEO of The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, speaks to Albany Area Chamber of Commerce members Thursday about economic opportunities in Georgia.

Chris Clark, president and CEO of The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, speaks to Albany Area Chamber of Commerce members Thursday about economic opportunities in Georgia.

ALBANY, Ga. — Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, says his biggest concern is “how we can grow Georgia business in this difficult environment.”

Clark addressed members of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday during a “Power Lunch” program.

Clark said he has been working with Gov. Nathan Deal and his office staff to find attainable solutions.

The answer to Georgia’s current economic issues, Clark said, is to protect and improve upon the natural assets of the state.

“We’re uniquely positioned with the port of Savannah and the inland port in Cordele,” Clark said, “but of the two railroads that are supposed to be coming out of there, only one is working right now. We have be sure we keep our Marine Base here through the next round of BRAC, and to grow the base and take care of our military people.”

Clark said he believes Albany is positioned to become a medical powerhouse. Another asset, Clark said, is the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

According to Georgia Chamber sources, Georgia ranks 21st in business competitiveness out of 50 states in the overall category of Education and Workforce Development. In the area of eighth grade math scores, Georgia ranks eighth lowest in the nation, with similar rankings for reading and science.

“We must push for improvements in education, grades K though 12,” Clark said.

However, Clark said Georgia is ranked No. 9 in the nation in the state of its infrastructure. He is particularly concerned that Georgians are the second lowest spenders for highway and transit systems, but drive the highest number of highway miles per capita among the country’s 10 largest states.

“It’s difficult to pass a tax,” Clark said, “but it’s the only option we have right now. It’s vital to business that we have dependable ways to move our manufactured goods.