By the Georgia Department of Economic Development
In 2020, Georgia’s diverse industries have been forced to innovate while our economic development professionals have confronted unexpected challenges from the novel coronavirus. Their incredible resilience and solidarity have proven that the state’s economic growth and recovery is on the right track.
Since March, nearly 300 Georgia companies have pulled together, retooled their machines and produced critical supplies and PPE to collectively fight COVID-19. The Department’s regularly updated ‘COVID-19 Suppliers Interactive List and Map’ displays the businesses supplying these critical resources and their contact information for those looking to purchase these products.
During fiscal year 2020, companies invested more than $5 billion in investment projects of all sizes across the state. These new or expanding investments have been in a variety of industries, including distribution services, health and IT, advanced manufacturing and flooring – to name a few.
Furthermore, between mid-March and end of June this year, Georgia announced 72 new projects, worth $2.12 billion and creating more than 7,863 jobs across the state. Even while facing a global pandemic, jobs and investment numbers increased when compared to the same time period last year.
Rural Georgia Opportunities
A majority of new jobs will be generated in Georgia’s rural regions. The increased opportunity in the state’s rural counties can be attributed to several factors, including the tireless efforts of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Rural Georgia Initiatives division. This team was created to help communities become more competitive for economic development projects and identify new strategies for attracting quality growth. This division works diligently to advance these strategies, thereby improving the quality of life for those residing in Georgia’s rural communities
The ever-changing environment has also proven something the Georgia Department of Economic Development team has always known to be true – having a diverse economy matters. Named the No. 1 state to do business for a record-breaking seven years in a row, companies from around the world know that in Georgia, you can truly make anything, anywhere in the state — whether it be a world-class automobile or a Peabody Award-winning film. In 2020, Georgia has been recognized for doing both.
Georgia is a national leader in advanced manufacturing, outpacing the U.S. in 10-year GDP growth in the manufacture of products including machinery, electrical equipment and fabricated metals. Georgia’s strength across multiple manufacturing sectors resulted in a GDP of $64.7 billion in 2019, and the Georgia Department of Labor estimated that there were 367,300 manufacturing jobs in the state as of May 2020.
Many international companies have chosen Georgia as their U.S. manufacturing base. This past year, Georgia earned major investments from a variety of countries, with some of the biggest projects coming from Korea, Brazil and Germany.
This past June, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that SK innovation, a developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), plans to invest another $940 million to expand their manufacturing plant in Commerce, Georgia, creating an additional 600 jobs. This new project announcement comes on the heels of the company’s $1.67 billion investment in developing two manufacturing facilities in Georgia that will deliver 2,000 jobs in Jackson County, taking SK innovation’s current total investment in Georgia to an unprecedented $2.61 billion. When complete, the Georgia location will be among the facilities in Europe and Asia that give SK innovation a projected annual global capacity of 71 gigawatt hours, making it one of the leading makers of EV batteries in the world.
Additionally, in the beginning of the year, the state launched the Georgia Made™ initiative to recognize and support companies manufacturing at least 50% of their product in Georgia. The governor hosted Georgia Made™ Day at the State Capitol, which featured an exposition of products from Georgia manufacturers as well as the launch of the official Georgia Made™ logo. Companies represented included an array of Georgia industries from heavy industrial to food manufacturing and life sciences.
With a robust life sciences community, a culture of innovation and collaboration, a talented and diverse workforce, and world-class logistics, Georgia puts life science companies in a position to impact the world. Known for being the birthplace of anesthesia, Georgia has a rich history of medical innovation and collaboration. Using this history as their guide, Georgia companies have led an unprecedented response to the novel coronavirus. Significant funding from public and private partners has led to the expedited establishment of the Global Heath Crisis Coordination Center, a coalition of global business leaders, experts and inspired citizens, dedicated to coordinating resources and knowledge as the world faces COVID-19.
A few other R&D leaders that call Georgia home include: American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, CARE, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Global Health Institute, Emory School of Medicine, Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI), Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA), The Carter Center, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Home to the world’s busiest airport, according to Airports Council International, two deep-water seaports and roughly 15,000 different logistics companies, Georgia is the gateway to global markets. The state’s unparalleled logistics infrastructure and services handle and haul more than $900 billion of cargo every year.
Companies such as Port City Logistics, one of Savannah’s leading third party logistics (3PL) companies, have continued their growth this year. Recently, they announced the expansion of their operations in Chatham County, creating 200 new job opportunities and investing $80 million for the construction of a new headquarters and warehouse facility in Port Wentworth.
IT & Cybersecurity
As the first half of this year was marked by countless shifts, Georgia’s financial technology (FinTech) and cyber companies have been on the front lines. With so many organizations transitioning employees to a work-from-home model, cybersecurity has never been more important. And with the sharp increase in online purchasing, companies like NCR and InComm have continued to innovate and create seamless commercial experiences to safely keep the nation’s economy open. After all, 70% of all U.S. financial transactions pass through Atlanta, Georgia!
Georgia serves as one of America’s elite cybersecurity hubs, ranking No. 3 in the nation for information security. Cybersecurity and defense depend on recruiting, training and retaining quality talent, and Georgia is committed to providing cyber companies access to a pipeline of qualified talent. Recently, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Georgia State University has earned two prestigious cybersecurity designations, thanks to the school’s demonstrated commitment to both cybersecurity research and training.
In addition, the Georgia Cyber Center at Fort Gordon in Augusta is currently one of four U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) centers in the nation. In 2022, the installation will become ARCYBER headquarters. ARCYBER’s key missions include operating and aggressively defending the U.S. Department of Defense Information Network, delivering offensive and defensive cyberspace effects against adaptive adversaries, and rapidly developing and deploying cyberspace capabilities to equip our forces for future fights.
The $100 million Georgia Cyber Center, the single-largest investment in a cybersecurity facility by a state government to-date, continues to attract investments and opportunities from across the U.S., from private-sector partners such as Parsons Corporation and Perspecta, bringing numerous high-paying jobs to the Augusta area.
Film & Entertainment
In March, the Georgia Film Office celebrated a record-breaking $2.9 billion year during the annual Film Day at the Capitol. The Georgia Film Office also launched the Georgia FilmWorks website, which uses personal stories to highlight the contributions the film industry has made on the lives of Georgians, small businesses and communities.
We are proud to note that, according to Box Office Mojo, the number one grossing movies for 2018, 2019, and 2020 were all filmed in Georgia – “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: End Game” and “Bad Boys for Life.” The second highest grossing film in 2018, “Black Panther,” was also shot in Georgia.
In June of 2020, Governor Kemp announced that, after pausing production due to COVID-19, the major motion picture, television and streaming companies planned to bring back and hire an estimated 40,000 production workers. These workers will be employed on an expected 75 production projects that will invest over $2 billion into Georgia’s economy over the following 18 months. According to the Motion Picture Association-America, which compiled the data from its members., this includes plans by producers to purchase goods and services from over 17,000 small Georgia businesses.
Having a skilled workforce continues to play a major role in successful film production. This is one of the reasons the Georgia Film Academy continues to partner with multiple state colleges and universities, including the Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Atlanta Technical College, Georgia State University and others, to help further develop a local pipeline of talent. Offering students rigorous professional training in post-production, content creation, film and television experiences and more, the Georgia Film Academy will help maintain the state’s position as the epicenter of the film industry for years to come.
Explore Georgia, the state’s tourism division, announced 25-year marketing veteran Mark Jaronski would soon take the helm as its new Deputy Commissioner. While travel came to an abrupt halt in the spring due to the COVID-19 crisis, Explore Georgia proceeded to conduct its sensitive and strategic promotional activities. In the absence of paid media, these efforts have resulted in the highest website traffic in five years and have increased engagement in our social media channels. Audience growth on Facebook was nearly double that of surrounding state travel offices. As tourism begins its recovery, Georgia will remain strongly positioned to safely welcome travelers back.
Building Upon our Strong Framework
Georgia’s diverse economy and strong economic framework – thanks to the state’s global supply chain, availability of skilled labor, and low cost of doing business – have proven that the state is well-positioned to recover from current challenges. Every year, and especially during 2020, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) has continued its mission of creating job and investment opportunities across the state. From new investment ventures with Global Fortune 500 companies to accolades recognizing the state for consistently attracting jobs and investment, Georgia has continued to lead the way back to economic prosperity throughout the first half of 2020.