ach November I have the privilege of standing with a governor at a press conference to announce his or her state’s first place finish in our annual ranking of state business climates. November 2nd marked the third consecutive year I’ve done so with Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia.
States win this recognition on purely objective and quantifiable measures — project announcements that meet the muster of the Conway Projects Database and a survey of corporate site selectors are the main ingredients. Winning twice in a row is great for any state. It says the first win wasn’t a flash in the pan, and that strong business climate dynamics are in place. A three-peat is a pattern, and it says those dynamics are paying off handsomely.
What’s behind Georgia’s performance? Discovering that is the real privilege, because it means sitting down with the winning governor to discuss what he or she and his or her economic development team are doing that’s working. Last month Gov. Deal welcomed me to his office in the state capitol for the discussion, and you will learn much from the candid discussion in this issue’s coverage of the business climate ranking.
Bottom line: a fiscally sound state is in a much better position to deliver to capital investors what they most covet when they’re planning new or expanded operations – predictability. That’s the heart of a state business climate. Not a recently passed tax or regulatory reform, though that helps. Not a recent boost in infrastructure spending, though that’s a positive, too. Not a newly packaged commitment to STEM programs or other education initiatives, though they’re critical components. Not even a widely praised workforce training program alone can separate one state from the rest of the pack, although such programs are essential. Combined, those are all great tools, but without strong fiscal management (resulting hopefully in high bond ratings and lower interest costs), what state can guarantee corporate investors any kind of future business success?
For the foreseeable future, Georgia can. We congratulate Governor Deal, Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr and their respective teams — and the state legislature for its part — in this third consecutive first place finish. Collectively, their support of the film industry alone is resulting in massive investment — $6 billion by one recent measure. States that cannot sustain incentives in that arena are watching television and film production operations beat a path to Georgia’s door. That’s just one industry. But it’s not just about incentives — available workers are the real draw, and Georgia is making all the right moves to deliver them, as the cover story explains.
You will also find in this issue an expert take on the current pace of foreign direct investment into the United States and why US locations are bulking up on FDI, another on the enduring importance of location seen through the prism of incentives, a current (and also expert) summary of why US companies are reshoring, and very expert insights from senior corporate executives in the medical devices, aerospace and other key industries on why they invest where they do.
I predict you will thoroughly enjoy this last issue of 2015. Let’s do it again in 2016.