Georgia’s economy is diverse, promising and continuing to gain momentum. Over the past year, the state has consistently shattered its own development records. During the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021, more than 24,000 jobs were created across all regions of the state by economic development projects. These projects total over $8.43 billion in new investments, representing nearly a 70 percent increase compared to the same time period in the previous fiscal year.
Driving Clean-Energy Jobs
A shift to electric mobility is happening rapidly; the next two decades will lead to more innovation and change in the global automotive industry than experienced over the previous 100 years. Georgia will remain in the driver’s seat for this seismic shift.
In Commerce, Georgia, construction of SK innovation’s massive battery manufacturing facility, which has already secured contracts with Ford, Kia, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, is well underway. Once complete, the Georgia location will be among the facilities in Europe and Asia that give SK a projected annual global capacity of 71 gigawatt hours, making it one of the leading makers of EV batteries in the world.
Through its smart policies, which continue to organically drive clean-energy jobs and private-sector investments, the State of Georgia has emerged as a leader in attracting the United States’ electric mobility supply chain. Over the past two years alone, Georgia has attracted international electric mobility suppliers including Enchem, GEDIA Automotive Group, Dongwon Tech Corporation, and TEKLAS—to name a few.
In addition, by encouraging innovation, rather than setting mandates, Georgia has emerged as a top ten solar state in the United States. Clean energy initiatives and goals, put forth by the private sector as companies across the globe look for ways to reduce their carbon footprints, have translated into thousands of jobs and opportunities for Georgians.
After a 30 percent increase in jobs over the previous year, in 2019 Georgia ranked No. 1 in solar jobs growth in the Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census. This ranking, the most recent currently available from the foundation, also placed Georgia sixth in total solar manufacturing employment.
In addition, a new solar park by German-owned RWE Renewables in south Georgia’s Mitchell County will be the company’s largest solar project in the U.S.; while in Houston County, the center of the state, Royal Dutch Shell’s $55 million investment by Silicon Ranch will bring 300 jobs during the construction of their 68 megawatt solar farm. The installation will power 11,000 homes when fully operational.
A Leading Tech Hub
In just one month, Georgia secured largescale investments and commitments from companies including Microsoft, Google and Airbnb. This incredible momentum further solidified Georgia’s position as a distinguished tech hub.
While this momentum is incredible for the state, it should not come as a surprise. Georgia’s strength in tech talent development serves as a key reason Georgia companies are able to embrace technologies like artificial intelligence and prepare long-term capacity to fill jobs of the future.
Tech talent development begins in the K-12 education system where the Georgia Department of Education is committed to preparing students for 21st century workplace careers by providing opportunities in STEAM fields. Beyond K-12, the state’s college and universities continue to produce thousands of workforce-ready graduates each year. The promise Georgia students show has led companies like Apple and the Southern Company to each invest $25 million and launch the Propel Center, a facility located within the Atlanta University Center, which will create a tech hub for Atlanta-area Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Georgia’s burgeoning logistics, manufacturing, and food processing industries alone accounted for more than 60 percent of the new jobs created by economic development projects over the course of the first three quarters of fiscal year 2021.
Georgia’s manufacturing strength is not new. The state continuously outpaces the U.S. in ten-year GDP growth in the manufacturing of products including machinery, electrical equipment, and fabricated metals. The state’s strength across multiple manufacturing sectors resulted in a GDP of $64.7 billion in 2019.
In addition, more than 90 percent of Georgia’s exports are advanced manufacturing-related, and since 2010 alone, the state’s manufacturing exports have increased by over 30 percent. Leveraging international representatives located in 12 strategic markets around the world, GDEcD’s four-time “E Star” award-winning trade division helps Georgia exporters enter and expand into markets across the globe.
Leader in Logistics
Georgia’s leaders understand that companies need to be able to depend on a reliable system for moving supplies in and shipping products out to achieve long-term success. Seamless connectivity of Georgia’s ocean, rail, truck, and air transportation helps Georgia companies meet their customers’ increasing delivery expectations.
With deepwater ports in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia’s coastal waterways serve as a gateway to the world. Georgia’s inland ports – the Appalachian Regional Port, Northeast Georgia Inland Port, and Cordele Inland Port – also extend the Georgia Ports “welcome mat” to regions across the state, providing direct paths to the Port of Savannah, and thus international trade lanes. Georgia companies rely on the state’s logistics infrastructure and services to handle and haul more than $900 billion of cargo each year.
Georgia’s Center of Innovation for Logistics also helps companies take advantage of the state’s world-class logistics industry so they can improve supply-chain efficiencies, support growth, and increase global competitiveness. A recent report from the COI and the Metro Atlanta Chamber shows that Georgia remains primed for more growth in this area in the years ahead, and that Georgia’s postsecondary educational institutions are doing their part to meet industry workforce needs.
Food Processing Surge
One year ago, no one knew how quickly demand for food processing would surge in response to a rapid, international shift in consumer lifestyles and purchasing behaviors due to a global pandemic. Since July of 2020 alone, Georgia has welcomed Freshly and HelloFresh meal delivery services, along with BandD Foods, and La Regina Atlantica. Big names like General Mills, Nestlé Purina, Ken’s Foods, and Frito-Lay have also announced expansion plans in the state.
Georgia is home to more than half of the United States’ top 100 food processing companies—with numerous household brands headquartered in the Peach State too. A few of the most recognizable names in food with Georgia headquarters include Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Great American Cookies, King’s Hawaiian, Krystal, Mellow Mushroom, Cinnabon, Church’s Chicken, and the HoneyBaked Ham Company. Recently, Papa John’s and Chicken Salad Chick also announced plans to establish headquarters in metro Atlanta, citing Georgia’s diverse pipeline of talent as a major driver of their decisions.
Much like food processing, Georgia’s beverage industry is also continuing to gain momentum. In September of 2020, sports beverage company BANG ENERGY announced plans to invest $145 million in opening their first Southeastern manufacturing and distribution facility in Lithia Springs, Georgia. Anheuser-Busch, which employs more than 500 Georgians in Cartersville, also announced two expansions during 2020 for a total of $150 million at their northwest Georgia brewing operations.
One year ago, the state, much like its partners around the world, faced a volatile and uncertain economic future. Thanks to Georgia’s business-friendly climate and its long-term investments in K-12 education, workforce development, and in its logistics infrastructure, Georgia has managed to reach new heights in economic development, despite unplanned change and turmoil caused by a global pandemic. With plans to continue leveraging this momentum, the State of Georgia remains on a promising track for innovation and opportunity.