By: Felipe Rivas 

2 min read September 2020—The pandemic has soured the business climate globally and through the United States for the better part of the year. However, in Georgia, consistently ranked as the top state to do business by different publications, though 2020 has been far from peaches and cream, the Peach State closed out the fiscal year with an increase in economic development projects and billions in new investments. In the midst of the pandemic, the state saw an increase in economic development projects and closed out fiscal year 2020 with a total of more than $7 billion in new investments made in the state, the governor’s office announced. 

During fiscal year 2020, ending June 30, economic development project locations increased compared to the year prior while the state reported a 30% increase in jobs created outside the metro Atlanta area. From July 2019 to June 30, 2020, and despite the global implications of COVID-19 during the second half of the fiscal year, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) supported the creation of more than 24,000 new jobs, generating more than $7.4 billion in total investment. The location of 350 projects constituted a 4% increase from fiscal year 2019, according to the governor’s office. 

“These numbers are proof that the fundamentals that have made Georgia a leading competitor for investment remain strong. Businesses far and wide understand that, and the result is more jobs for hardworking Georgians,” said Gov. Brian Kemp in a press release.

Since mid-March, when the governor’s executive stay-at-home order was in place, the whole business landscape changed. “But thanks to Georgia’s approach to business during COVID-19, we still saw 72 new projects, over 7,800 new jobs announced and $2 billion in investments to date,” GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson told Focus: Atlanta. Many companies recognized both the challenges and need for long-term plans for the post-pandemic future, providing an opportunity to automate and change business lines, Wilson said. “Some of our companies that were planning toward the 2021 horizon to invest in automation and upgrade facilities are doing so now,” he said. 

Industries that experienced significant growth in both jobs and investment during fiscal year 2020 include the manufacturing, logistics, software development and tech industries, according to the governor’s office.  “The tech sector has been one of the real hot points for job growth in the last few months,” Wilson told Focus: Atlanta “As COVID-19 deeply transforms the retail industry, tech jobs are booming as a result of the bustling e-commerce activity.” GDEcD is keen on supporting workforce development efforts and the talent pipeline needed to fill the jobs coming to the Peach State. “We continue to focus on ensuring we can provide the workforce to supply those jobs and keep them going. We are only as good as the long-term workforce in the pipeline for these companies,” Wilson said. The department’s strategic partnerships with Georgia’s robust trades and higher education system have been instrumental in the success of its economic development efforts. “There is a strong focus on growing jobs, especially the new jobs of the future, and making sure the graduating workforce is anchored in the latter,” Wilson said. 

Balancing recovery efforts while keeping momentum in the growing sectors of the economy are among the main priorities as Georgia enters its new fiscal year. “For the upcoming phase of recovery, we intend to keep a close eye on our strategic and growing industries to continue their momentum,” Wison said. “Parallel to cybersecurity, fintech and e-commerce, food processing is going to be a renewed strategy for companies, bringing it closer to their supply chain. Georgia’s massive agricultural base recognizes a sizable opportunity within that niche.” Supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic can potentially create economic development opportunities in the state. “We are also monitoring companies looking to pull their supply chain back into the United States. We continue to see ripple effects from overseas shutdowns and how they impact companies involved in real-time supply chains. A company that has to shut down because it does not have enough inventory of critical components impacts local production. A number of companies are thinking about diversifying their supply chain and we are focused on working with Georgia companies that experience these problems, assisting them by recruiting their suppliers into the state,” Wilson said. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://gov.georgia.gov/