In 2022, Georgia is already celebrating another record-breaking year for trade and economic development.
During the first two quarters of fiscal year 2022, Georgia has nearly doubled the jobs and investment totals from state economic development projects from the same timeframe in the prior year – which set its own record. In April, Georgia announced a total of 251 state economic development projects created more than 35,400 jobs and contributed $12.9 billion in investments to Georgia’s economy in just nine months.
Collaboration, innovation, and a business-friendly environment have spurred investments across a variety of industries including automotive, advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, software and technology, and food processing.
Growing Sustainable Ecosystems
Recent growth in the automotive industry reflects the state’s focus on developing the electric mobility manufacturing sector at every step of the supply chain. The 2018 investment by SK Innovation to manufacture electric vehicle (EV) batteries set in motion a ripple effect attracting investment from global electric mobility suppliers like Duckyang, Enchem Ltd, TEKLAS, GEDIA and others. American electric adventure vehicle innovator Rivian announced plans for a new carbon-conscious campus on the I-20 corridor east of Atlanta. The nearly 2,000-acre campus will create approximately 7,500 jobs and involve assets from Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties.
Georgia’s work to cultivate a fully integrated EV supply chain not only improves sustainability, it drives innovation. Two companies that recently announced plans to locate in Georgia bring two important links of the chain with their innovative processes.
Aurubis, one of the leading recyclers of copper, precious metals, and non-ferrous materials worldwide, will open a new facility in Augusta that will be the very first of its kind in the United States. American lithium-ion battery recycling and engineered materials startup Ascend Elements is locating a new facility in Newton County, Georgia, not far from SK Battery’s Jackson County facility. Together these companies have already announced a partnership, with Ascend Elements planning to recycle both cell and module lithium-ion battery manufacturing scrap from SK. Recycling operations and partnerships like these are vital for the future of electric mobility.
Automotive companies aren’t the only ones finding the resources they need to succeed in Georgia. The ability to collaborate with innovative partners, ranging from other companies to local universities, creates a supportive environment for growth.
In one example of innovative solutions through collaboration, Korean multinational corporation SK Group subsidiary SKC has announced a new venture with multiple partners to manufacture glass-based substrates for semiconductor chips in Georgia. This unprecedented venture is a result of research conducted at Georgia Tech’s Packaging Research Center, which has a long history of attracting globally renowned talent to Georgia while educating Georgia’s workforce. The technology produced by this venture will be the first of its kind.
Bringing Talent to Technology
Georgia is home to eight top-ranked cyber institutes with CAE-R or CAE-CD designations, numerous cyber research centers, and ranks in the top 10 states for most centers of academic excellence. The Georgia Cyber Center, the largest state investment in a cybersecurity facility in the nation, addresses growing demand for highly-trained cybersecurity professionals by connecting academic programs with innovative startups and established technology companies. Located in Augusta, the Center also serves as an incubator/accelerator for startup cybersecurity companies. Because of this access to talent, companies like Microsoft, Google, Airbnb, Visa, Cisco, and Deluxe have built new hubs for innovation, creating thousands of local jobs and investing millions in new or expanded locations.
Cybersecurity isn’t the only technology sector dedicated to cultivating talent. Georgia’s FinTech industry and the 26 public institutions of the University System of Georgia have come together to create the Georgia FinTech Academy. With the support of committed education initiatives and advanced infrastructure, Georgia’s reputation as “Transaction Alley” continues to grow. With major payment processing companies like InComm, NCR, and Global Payments in Georgia, 70 percent of global transactions are handled by payment processing firms here.
Atlanta’s “hotbed of talent from traditionally underrepresented communities,” as described by Harvard Business Review, has made Georgia a target state for tech companies looking to meet and exceed their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. In fact, CBRE recently reported that Atlanta has the most diversity of the top 10 tech markets, with the highest growth rate of the top 50 tech hubs between 2015-2019.
From Georgia Facilities to Global Markets
Georgia’s connectivity to national and international markets helps Georgia companies reach key suppliers and diverse customers. Access to markets by sea has helped secure diverse projects including Serena & Lily Inc.’s new distribution facility in Effingham County. The Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing and third-busiest container gateway in the United States, and the Appalachian Regional Port supported Roper Corporation’s decision to invest $118 million in expanding its facilities in northwest Georgia. The Georgia Ports Authority’s investments in deepening ports to accommodate larger ships and expanding container storage capabilities have created record-breaking numbers consecutively for more than 19 months.
National markets are made accessible by Georgia’s more than 1,200 miles of highway. This highway system, maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation, connects companies to 80 percent of the country in two days or less of driving time. This system was integral to landing Ryder System Inc.’s new facility in metro Atlanta that will create more than 250 new jobs.
Visitors for business and leisure will find accessing Georgia to be a breeze through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Not only is Hartsfield-Jackson the busiest airport in the world, it also remains the most efficient.
A wide range of industries are attracted to Georgia’s skilled and diverse workforce, robust and integrated infrastructure, and affordable cost of living in a moderate climate. A long-held, pro-business approach has created a stable and reliable environment in a right-to-work state with low unionization.
When asked “Why Georgia?” for their expansions or new locations, companies including Microsoft, Heliox, Danimer Scientific, and Amazon cited the state’s diverse and highly-educated workforce. With the second largest workforce in the Southeast, Georgia is the 8th largest state in the U.S., and the population is expected to grow by 25 percent from 2018 to 2038.
Further, a new record was set in 2021 by Georgia’s University System, which awarded approximately 73,000 degrees during the year. Georgia is home to 85 accredited public and private universities including two of the nation’s top 20 public universities – Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia – and two of the nation’s top five Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Spelman College and Morehouse College. Georgia State University, also located in Atlanta, ranks in the top 10 U.S. colleges and universities for both racial diversity and for advancing social mobility.
Georgia’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, has ranked No. 1 in the nation for over a decade. This tailored training program develops programs, at no cost to qualified companies, to develop specific skillsets required by a company, and assists in the hiring process.
Other ways the state strives to support business includes initiatives like the Georgia Center of Innovation, a one-of-a-kind division and service within the Georgia Department of Economic Development that not only helps expand key business ecosystems in Georgia, but supports existing businesses with solutions and connections to help them move faster, further, and smarter.
Today more than ever, business wants what Georgia has.