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From Site Selection magazine, March 2024

It Only Starts with Atlanta

Georgia is much more than its dynamic capital.

by Gary Daughters

hen the subject turns to Georgia, everybody thinks and talks about Atlanta, and for good reason. Just for starters, consider the giant personalities that have made their names in what is widely acknowledged to be the capital of the South, the country’s most dynamic economic and political engine: Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner, Hank Aaron, Andrew Young. The aforementioned figures, each in their own way, sold the city to the world, opening lanes of opportunity to successive generations of powerful lesser knowns like the bankers, developers, politicians and assorted dreamers who built hotels, sumptuous neighborhoods, arenas, tech parks and swanky office buildings and then delivered the 1996 Summer Olympics, the latter having served as rocket fuel to the non-stop Atlanta enterprise. Its newest propellants include hip hop, film and video and waves of ambitious migrants, both domestic and international. U.S. Soccer and the FIFA World Cup are coming.

If Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is a vital cog in a global human delivery system, Savannah’s ports play a similar role in moving goods. Third busiest in the nation, Georgia’s ports helped lure Hyundai, whose $7.5 billion Metaplant is rising from the ground just west of Savannah. Nearby Gulfstream, the private jet maker, is the state’s biggest manufacturing employer with some 13,000 workers, split between Savannah and Brunswick. 

But here it’s time to consider the rest of Georgia, the largest state by land mass east of the Mississippi River. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), 82% of new jobs in FY 2023 were created outside the 10-county metro Atlanta region. More than $20 billion of investment landed there.

E-mobility and clean energy, priorities of the Kemp administration, are creating prosperity in towns with names like Dalton, West Point, Cartersville and Bainbridge. According to GDEcD, at least 40 e-mobility projects were announced between July 2018 and July 2023, committing more than 30,000 jobs and over $25 billion in investment to the state. Job creation in Georgia’s rapidly growing automotive industry increased by 324% between FY 2021 and FY 2023.

If Georgia has a “secret sauce,” it might just be the stability that has consistently led it to a high ranking among Site Selection’s top states for doing business. 

“In Georgia,” says Wilson, “regardless of political party, we have consistently been pro-business for the last 50 years. Companies that are looking at a 50-year investment love to talk about a track record. And they appreciate that, whether Republican or Democrat, we have always been very strong in supporting the business community.”

 — Gary Daughters, Senior Editor

Gary Daughters
Senior Editor

Gary Daughters

Gary Daughters is a Peabody Award winning journalist who began with Site Selection in 2016. Gary has worked as a writer and producer for CNN covering US politics and international affairs. His work has included lengthy stints in Washington, DC and western Europe. Gary is a 1981 graduate of the University of Georgia, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. He lives in Atlanta with his teenage daughter, and in his spare time plays guitar, teaches golf and mentors young people.


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