Georgia has garnered the title “Top State for Business” for the sixth year in a row, evidence of a successful commitment to economic growth combined with the indispensable incentives to businesses locating or expanding here.

The coveted ranking from Area Development Magazine is based on low business costs, generous incentive programs and competitive labor environments, among other business-favorable policies. The publication covers corporate site selection and relocation, making its selections of best states for business from polling site consultants. Georgia also placed first in several other key categories including cooperative and responsive state government, leading workforce development programs and speed of permitting. In addition to tax credits and exemptions, a major incentive for Georgia “is one of the nation’s most robust training programs.”

In announcing the recognition, Gov. Brian Kemp gave credit to efforts to cut red tape — a longtime favorite target of his — for continuing “to lure world-class companies to the Peach State from every corner of the map.” Kemp also cited the state’s “world-class workforce ... a direct result of our top-ranking colleges and universities and Georgia Quick Start, the best workforce development program in the nation.” And he said an innovative and comprehensive logistics network makes Georgia “a gateway to the global economy by land, air and sea.” It should be noted that winning the “Top State for Business” gives Georgia more than bragging rights. The consultants who are surveyed in the poll have an active role in choosing sites for businesses to locate with thousands of new jobs at stake.

In this race, the South leads the pack. The top states in order are Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. “This proves that the South continues to have the reputation of being business-friendly, as well as having strong economic development tools,” Area Development said.

Coinciding with the Top State recognition, Georgia announced record results in its film industry and global commerce. There were 399 productions filmed in Georgia and a record $2.9 billion invested in the state for the fiscal year ended June 30. Productions included no less than 26 feature films, 31 independent films and 214 television series, prompting Gov. Kemp to assert, “The Peach State remains the Hollywood of the South.” He added: “We appreciate those who have invested in our state and respect our values and our way of life.” That was directed at calls from some in the film and television industry for a boycott of Georgia earlier this year after Kemp signed an anti-abortion law, now on hold with a court challenge. Kemp also cited the record year achieved in global commerce which brought more than 300 projects to the state with nearly 29,000 new jobs, 74 percent of them outside Atlanta which fits with Kemp’s emphasis on building the economy of rural Georgia.

Add the impact of the state’s tourism industry, as Kemp underlined at the Governor’s Tourism Conference in LaGrange, and the latest growth reports look promising for the economy. Tourism is a big bright spot in Georgia’s economy with spending up nearly five percent to an estimated $31 billion in 2018 and a record 111.7 million visitors, supporting 475,000 jobs and generating $66.2 billion in economic impact.

Looking ahead, Kemp announced the creation of a rural strike team “to focus on bringing jobs, investment and economic development to all corners of the Peach State.” He said the members of the team “will raise the visibility of regional economic development assets – specifically, large industrial sites outside of metro Atlanta – and unite communities to market those sites to potential prospects.” He wants major projects to benefit “multiple counties, dozens of communities and hundreds of hardworking Georgia families.” This is consistent with the governor’s oft-stated commitment to achieving economic growth beyond the metropolitan areas, seeking to lift all boats. “Working together,” Kemp concluded, “we will ensure rural Georgia’s best days are ahead.”

It’s a worthy objective, and we commend the governor’s efforts to attain it.

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