COVINGTON — Gov. Brian Kemp chose Bridgestone Golf in Covington as the site to announce that Georgia — for a record-breaking eighth year in a row — has been named the No. 1 state for business by Site Selection magazine. Kemp connected the announcement Thursday with the kickoff of the 2020 Masters Tournament in Augusta.

“I can tell you that other than Augusta National, there is probably nowhere better to be today than at this facility during the week of the fall Masters Tournament,” said Kemp.

Georgia shares the "best for business" title this year with North Carolina, making this the first time the magazine has named co-winners of the award. The title is based on the magazine’s survey of corporate executives and site selectors and on an index of project counts and other criteria.

Kemp commended Bridgestone, a manufacturer of golf balls, for its participation in the Georgia Made Program and for its success in signing with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau.

“As you know, Tiger’s the reigning Masters champ and Bryson just won the U.S. Open, and they both have relied on Georgia-made golf balls for their recent major wins,” said Kemp. “So we need to spread that message far and wide to other professionals that are out there and amateurs like myself.”

Kemp also touted the state’s “measured approach” to the COVID-19 pandemic for keeping Georgia in a favorable position for economic development. A focus on creating a business-friendly environment and workforce development has made Georgia model for the rest of the nation, he said.

“It means that great innovative companies, like Bridgestone, know that the best location for them to grow and thrive is right here in Georgia. And more than that, it means that more good news, more jobs and more opportunities are on their way for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state.”

Dan Murphy, president and CEO of Bridgestone Golf, said the state’s handling of the pandemic helped to propel Bridgestone to its best year since locating in Covington 30 years ago. After a dismal outlook in March, Murphy said Bridgestone saw a surge in interest in golf.

“What happened in the month of May is that golf became a safe haven, it became a place where people could go and get some recreation,” said Murphy. “So, all of a sudden, what looked like disaster became opportunity. Because of the leadership of the state ... the way that things unfolded for us turned out to be a very good year. We are having a record year in sales and profits. Of all those 30 years this is the No. 1 year. And the reason why is because when opportunity knocked, we were able to get back to business quicker and sooner than our competition.”

According to the Site Selection magazine survey, the top 10 criteria in selecting a business location are:

• Workforce skills

• Workforce development

• Transportation infrastructure

• Ease of permitting and regulatory procedures

• State and local tax scheme

• Right-to-work state

• Utilities (cost, reliability)

• Quality of life

• Incentives

• Legal climate (tort reform)

Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said Georgia’s investments in transportation, logistics and infrastructure help to create an environment of certainty that continues to draw new businesses.

“We continue to outpace all of our numbers from last year, said Wilson. “And so if you look at the headwinds globally, the things that are going on internationally — whether it’s trade disputes, COVID-19 — it is amazing that we continue to produce numbers and investments that are way higher than we have ever experienced during in the same window before.”

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