Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr welcomes guests and business prospects to Wynfield Plantation in Albany to kickoff the Georgia Quail Hunt Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Business recruitment and expansion prospects arrived in South Georgia this week to learn about doing business in Georgia, while also enjoying some of the nation’s best quail hunting at the annual Georgia Quail Hunt.
Now in it’s 26th year, the quail hunt is sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and the Southwest Georgia Chamber Council and serves as a way to connect business and economic leaders from throughout the sate with business and industry prospects from around the world.
According to Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark, the event over the years has helped to generate almost 10,000 jobs while bringing nearly $3 billion into the state.
“This has a great return on investment and it also gives an opportunity for us to show another part of Georgia to the prospects we are trying to convince to come here,” said Clark. “We use this also as a way to tell Georgia companies that are here already, ‘we want you to stay here, we want you to invest in Georgia.’”
The quail hunt kicked off Wednesday night at Wynfield Plantation in Albany with guests getting the chance to meet with local and state business leaders, as well as Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who welcomed everyone to south Georgia and tell them why the state was a great place in which to do business.
“The primary message we want to deliver is that Georgia is a great place to do business,” said Deal. “Some of those who are on the guest list this evening already have a presence in Georgia and perhaps are thinking about expanding their presence. Others don’t have a presence here but are good prospects for location or construction of new facilities in our state. So, it’s a wide variation and the product range that they deal with is also very diverse.” So, it’s just a general economic development message that all of us are trying to deliver and it’s just being delivered in a setting in which we hope people will have fun.”
Deal said he felt a quail hunt in south Georgia was a great way to showcase what the southern part of the state had to offer and treat guests to a good time. Unfortunately, Deal said, his busy schedule was preventing him from the opportunity to join them on the hunt.
“This is certainly a great location to host guests from outside of our state and I think it gives a good impression of southwest Georgia,” said Deal. “So, it’s just a general economic development message that all of us are trying to deliver and it’s being delivered in a setting in which we hope people will have fun.”
With the general assembly in full swing Deal was only able to visit for a brief time and had to return to Atlanta later that night, but others were staying for the entire event, including Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr, who agreed that the hunt was a good way to showcase not only south Georgia but the state as a whole and tell visitors why they should do business in the state.
“What we’ve tried to do with this Quail hunt is partner with the Georgia Chamber, with the local community and bring in some prospects and some people that have been doing business in Georgia to really tout what we’re doing,” said Carr. “Whether it’s in industrial development, whether it’s in tourism, trade, the film industry or the arts, we’re trying to work together to find new ways and different mixes that we can be successful with.”
Carr went on to talk about some of the industries that have been successful in Georgia and the reasons he sees for that success.
“We’ve been fortunate in Georgia,” Carr said. “We’ve had a lot of manufacturing. We also continue to be a leader in the agriculture business and agri-tourism. Aerospace is another one that we’re seeing where we’ve really become a leader. The tourism industry had a banner year last year, with $51 billion dollars in economic impact. So there’s a lot of different sectors that we’re seeing.
“We’re just a good place to do business and we’ll go anywhere and everywhere to bring business and jobs to Georgia. We’re trying to tout that and show folks why Georgia is a special place. What really attracts businesses to Georgia is a pro-business environment; it’s the ports, it’s the airport, it’s the logistics, our infrastructure, the workforce, but it’s also who we are. Being able to show a unique aspect of Georgia, the outdoors element and how beautiful it is down here, this is a great sell for us and it’s a great opportunity for us to really be able to show folks who we are.”