ALBANY, Ga. -- It should come as no surprise that virtually all of the major industrial growth in the state of Georgia since 2010 fits nicely on a list of desirable industries compiled by state economic developers, a regional economic expert told the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission's executive board Wednesday.
Georgia Power Regional Economic Development Manager Scott Purvis told the EDC board projects like Baxter International in Covington, which will bring 1,500 new jobs to that north Georgia city, Caterpillar in Athens (1,400 jobs), and the Kia and Gulfstream plants in West Point and Savannah, respectively (1,000 jobs apiece), each comes directly from the state's target industry list.
"You look at the list, and pretty much all of the major projects in the state are on it," Purvis said. "These are highly technical jobs requiring specific skills, and they're 'clean' jobs."
Purvis said the state's target list includes aerospace technology, biosciences and health, data centers, energy, food processing, metals, information technology, logistics, new media and transportation. He noted that most of the 228 projects Georgia Power has been involved in since 2010 also come from the list.
A map pinpointing the locations of Georgia Power projects in the state showed little activity in south Georgia and none in Southwest Georgia.
"If you notice on the map, most of the south Georgia projects are located along interstate or four-lane highways," Purvis said. "Surveys show that highway accessibility is the No. 1 factor businesses use in making location decisions."
That list, the economic developer said, includes (in descending order): a low union profile, labor costs, skilled labor, corporate tax rate, energy availability and cost, shipping costs, occupancy/construction costs, tax exemptions, state and local incentives, as well as available buildings.
"If you look at that No. 2 item -- low union profile -- it's surprising to see that so high up on the list," said Purvis, whose coverage area includes 35 counties from the Alabama line into extreme south Georgia. "It's been on the list before, but never that high. In that respect, Georgia is fortunate because we have a very low union profile."
Purvis also told the EDC board some 19,085 of Dougherty County's employees live in the county, while 6,079 live in Lee County. Those two neighboring counties make up 44 and 14 percent, respectively, of Dougherty's work force. Worth County, with 2,107 workers, makes up 4.8 percent.
Figures offered during the presentation also show that 62.4 percent of Dougherty County's work population is employed in its home county, while 4.2 percent work in Mitchell County and the same percentage in Lee.
"Having your work population work close to home is a good thing," Purvis said. "But the thing you have to be most aware of is that the economic development process begins and ends with leadership. It's going to take the city, county, EDC and chamber of commerce working together."
Also at the meeting, the board voted to recommend to the city, county and chamber that each entity add one more member to the EDC board.
"The more people we have at the table, the more good ideas we'll get," EDC President/CEO Ted Clem said.
The board also got updates from members of its "three R's" committees, which will recruit stakeholders from the community to help the EDC's efforts. Committee members are Chris Hatcher, James Taylor and Jay Smith (recruitment); Aaron Johnson, Lamar Hudgins and Richard Crowdis (retention); and Judy Randle, Miles Espy and Chris Pike (renewal).