January 3, 2011
ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Economic Development announced that jobs increased by 14 percent and investment by 20 percent in the state during 2010. New and expanding companies created more than 20,000 jobs and invested $4.1 billion in Georgia during 2010. Entertainment and tourism also made strong showings.
“This kind of success only happens as the result of great teamwork by our GDEcD staff and partners,” said Heidi Green, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “We have good, positive momentum going into the new year.”
Georgia’s economic development successes in 2010 ran the gamut of the state’s diverse industry sectors and geographical regions. Among them were:
1. The allure of alternative energy
Georgia’s competitive assets for the energy sector attracted the attention of global energy leaders. Solar energy companies lit up the landscape in Dublin and Atlanta. MAGE SOLAR chose Dublin for its North American headquarters and a manufacturing facility, creating 350 jobs and investing $30 million. Enfinity Corporation of Belgium, the world’s largest developer of solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions, put its Americas headquarters in Atlanta in March.
2. Center of pop culture
The state’s entertainment industry exploded this past year, thanks to the 2008 Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act. The economic impact of production activity increased 440 percent between fiscal years 2007 and 2010, surging to $1.4 billion. Georgia’s business climate for the entertainment industry created tremendous opportunities for the state’s 25,000 workers in the business.
In 2010, several film and television studio facilities announced they would open their doors in Georgia, a commitment to the long-term promise of the state’s production environment. Among them were EUE/Screen Gems, which bought the former Lakewood Fairgrounds site near Atlanta and undertook a multimillion-dollar renovation of the studio complex. Raleigh Studios, the largest provider of stage space in the world, put down roots in Senoia in Coweta County. Savannah’s Meddin Studios opened a digital production facility and is already planning an expansion. Also, Panavision, a world-renowned name in the design, manufacture and rental of camera systems, announced it will open an Atlanta location in early 2011.
Four Georgia-made TV pilots have gone on to become series: “The Walking Dead,” “Teen Wolf,” “Single Ladies” and “Auction Kings”. Other Georgia-lensed successes include the top-ranked shows on their respective networks: “Vampire Diaries,” “Drop Dead Diva” and “The Walking Dead.”
Georgia also launched “Camera Ready”, a designation to streamline access by film and television production companies to local resources and information in the state’s 159 counties. In 2010, more than 50 Georgia counties hosted a film, TV or commercial production. Sixteen of them were tapped for this designation in the first phase of the program’s implementation.
3. World traveldestination
In 2010, Georgia ranked as the second fastest growing U.S. destination for international travelers. These travelers stay longer and spend more, whose expenditures resonate throughout the state’s economy. Georgia offers them the authentic Southern experiences they seek, such as the state’s commemoration of 150 years of Civil War history. Every $1 million spent by international visitors creates 11.5 new jobs and generates $33,143 in payroll and $123,588 in state taxes.
As domestic tourism has suffered, Georgia has aggressively targeted consumers, tour operators and media in emerging international markets including China and Brazil, already two of the South’s top 10 international markets. The number of visitors from China to the U.S. grew 55 percent in 2009 and another 40 percent this year. Four of China’s largest tour operators are now marketing Georgia.
The state also stepped up its efforts in South America, especially Brazil, predicted to become one of the top five countries for inbound travel to the United States by 2015. One of the largest tour operators in Brazil carries information about only two southern states, and one of them is Georgia.
4. Aerospace on the wing
Georgia’s energetic marketing of its aerospace assets attracted more jobs and investment. In November, Gulfstream Aerospace announced yet another expansion, increasing its Savannah workforce by 15 percent in a $500 million investment. Gov. Sonny Perdue’s mission to the Farnborough Airshow and the National Business Aviation Association’s Atlanta convention heralded Georgia’s assets for the industry, among them the nation’s most productive aerospace workforce and top-ranked academic programs.
5. Trading up
Georgia’s International Trade office reported a 10 percent increase in the trade deals helped companies close. The group facilitated 248 deals during the 2010 calendar year, up from 225 in 2009. The state undertook seven gubernatorial missions this past year to grow its trade and business relationships, including a historic mission in July to Cuba. The International Trade team also ensured Georgia was front and center at international trade shows in Germany, Mexico, Korea, Chile, Israel, Cuba and other shows in its strategic markets. The outlook for exports in Georgia remains positive, thanks in large part to the state’s ports, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing in the U.S.