The state’s top economic development official told Sandy Springs business leaders that metro Atlanta will be at the center of economic development plans during the upcoming year.
Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, spoke to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 15 to give a general outline of the state’s goals and challenges. He also talked about the ramifications of the defeat of a transportation sales tax bill that would’ve provided millions for local road projects.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure, known as the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, in all but three regions: Central Savannah River, River Valley and Heart of Georgia.
Cummiskey said those regions would likely see economic growth as a result. He also said Atlanta’s rejection in TSPLOST will mean the state will depend more on groups like the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts to build up the region’s transportation infrastructure.
He said the defeat of TSPLOST will cause some companies to look elsewhere, but it will not be a deterrent for others.
“It’s not the end all,” he said. “We are going to continue to get jobs. If we had passed it, a larger pool of companies would be looking here.”
It’s not all about recruiting companies to Georgia, he said. He said 70 percent of the Department’s projects involve expanding existing companies.
“The new businesses are just gravy on top of that,” he said.
Cummiskey said Georgia is among the top five places to do business in America.
He said Georgia is the southeastern hub of logistics and said within the next decade the state will be the hub of the eastern seaboard of the U.S.
The film industry is another key player in the state’s economy. He said entertainment in Georgia in the last few years grew from a $248 million economic impact to $3.1 billion.
Cummiskey said one area where the state falls behind is salaries for its workforce compared with other markets. He said Sandy Springs is in a unique position to help the state meet many of its strategic goals.
He noted the city has 29 million square feet of office space and praised the city for its work developing a downtown area.
“Your success is great and it’s going to continue to be great,” he said.