Over the past few years most everyone in our community has been affected in some way by the downturn in the economy.
We live in an area that had a high percentage of the workforce involved in some aspect of the building industry. This is one of the factors that has resulted in high unemployment for our region and our state.
We are seeing some positive signs that the building industry is slowly recovering. Forsyth County is reporting a substantial increase in building permits with improvements also being seen in Dawson and Lumpkin counties.
As elected officials we must continue to find ways to create an environment that is friendly to businesses that will lead to jobs being created in our area.
The citizens in the 9th District are some of the hardest working individuals in our country, and I will do everything I can to create an environment where they can be successful.
Georgia has many assets that make it an attractive place for regional, national and international companies to locate their businesses.
We have the world's busiest airport less than an hour from our district. We have the fourth-largest and the fastest-growing port in the United States located in Savannah.
Businesses in Georgia can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within a two-day truck haul or two-hour flight from Georgia and more than 40 percent of the U.S. population relies on the Port of Savannah as a point of import or export when doing business overseas.
Georgia is moving forward with a project to deepen the port to prepare for even larger ships that will come with the changes being made at the Panama Canal. There is no other single project more important to business in our state than getting the Port of Savannah project completed.
Georgia is known as having one of the best workforces and the No. 1 Quick Start job training program in the country.
Our state's technical schools are second to none, and they continue to turn out a superior workforce. The rate for students graduating from Lanier Technical College here in our region and then being placed in a high quality job continues to be impressive.
The recent change to a zero sales tax on energy used in manufacturing and commercial electricity is also proving to be a big incentive to attracting business to our state. The national average for this tax is more than 7 percent. The climate in Georgia is right for great things to happen.
I was honored last week to be asked to attend an important press conference at the state Capitol with Gov. Nathan Deal and other state and business leaders.
Deal announced that our state had been selected by "Site Selection Magazine" as the No. 1 state in the nation to do business for the first time in our history.
An estimated 49,000 executives from fast-growing firms rely on this publication as a resource in making crucial decisions about their companies when deciding where to expand.
The selection process is determined by the results of a survey of corporate site selectors and measurable factors such as tax burdens on firms.
Over the past three years, more than 177,000 new private-sector jobs have been created in Georgia, and our state has created private sector jobs at a faster rate than the national average.
Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot, Myron Gray, president of U.S. operations for UPS and Ira Berman, senior vice president of administration for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, joined Deal at the podium and were all extremely enthusiastic about what the state is doing to attract new business. All three of these international companies are world leaders in their fields, and they are all headquartered here in Georgia.
However, we still have much work to do.
Our unemployment rate still remains too high and many of our friends and neighbors remain unemployed or underemployed.
We must continue to work together to create an environment of opportunity for existing businesses to expand and to thrive, and we must continue to attract new businesses to our state.
It is important to remember that government does not create jobs. The private sector does. We must continue to find ways to get government out of the way and to let the entrepreneurial spirit of Georgians get the job done.
I look forward to working with each of you to make this happen. If you have ideas or thoughts on this issue, please call or email me. I would love to hear from you.
I am honored to serve as your representative at the state Capitol, and I look forward to working with each of you to make our state a better place to live, to work and to raise our children.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on his cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by email at email@example.com.