September is here! Fall football is in the air with UGA playing Clemson in the highest profile game opening weekend of college football and the Atlanta Braves are 2.5 games ahead in NL East. The State Legislature is busy with both fundraisers and policy discussions this month, with the House Rural Development Council meeting today. This working group has been very active in bringing forward meaningful economic incentives and policy proposals in the past. While our firm remains focused on state legislative activity, the past week has been full of new political developments for US Senator Warnock's re-election in 2022. With the formal candidate filing of Herschel Walker, a former UGA standout, the GOP primary field is filling up. Mr. Walker, who has high name ID, especially with older likely voters, has been labeled as an out-of-state candidate before even filing, mostly by the AJC and current Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who is also running for the GOP nomination for US Senate. Mr. Black's candidacy has picked up several local endorsements, most notably Doug Collins over the weekend. This endorsement creates a crack in Mr. Walker having the full support of the Trump machine but Mr. Walker also endorsed former US Senator Loeffler during her 2020 campaign against Doug Collins. The Walker campaign quickly named several staffers who worked previously for former President Trump and Governor Kemp. Mr. Black was a very vocal supporter of Doug Collins' challenge to Loeffler, but the early endorsement still surprised many insiders. Two other candidates are criss-crossing the state, Latham Saddler and Kelvin King, seeking the GOP nomination and the opportunity to challenge US Senator Warnock next November.
The Beacon Center of Tennessee, an independent think tank based out of Nashville, just issued a study comparing the economic and public-health effects of shutdown orders in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Michigan. Their findings were profound: punishing businesses with unreasonable regulations does not result in better health outcomes while guaranteeing worse economic outcomes. During the peak of economic shutdowns, Michigan’s economy fell by 45% compared to Georgia’s 8%. As for COVID cases at that time? Michigan had no lesser rate of spread than Georgia.
I am sure we’ve all experienced the feeling of driving through rural Georgia and thinking, “When did they start planting solar panels here?” Georgia has experienced an incredible acceleration in solar tech over the last decade. The central idea that has made this possible is that Georgia is making solar technology make sense in a language that everyone understands: dollars and job creation. While the carbon-free characteristics are great, it is important to make solar development economically feasible without a slew of government mandates.
One of the hottest businesses in the Southern U.S. right now is adding another location in Georgia. Buc-ee’s held a ribbon cutting on Monday for their new store in Calhoun, which is expected to add about 200 jobs to the area. “Calhoun is an ideal stop for folks making their way from central Georgia up through the gorgeous foothills of the northern part of the state, then on to Chattanooga in Tennessee and beyond,” said Stan Beard of Buc-ee’s. If you haven’t been to Buc-ee’s yet, what are you waiting for?
Lockheed Martin hosted Governor Kemp this week to thank him for the passage of SB 6, which provides for an expanded tax incentive program for defense contractors bidding on very large aerospace programs. As Lockheed competes to build the next generation of fighting aircraft, we want that investment to occur here, with the potential that Lockheed could add thousands of jobs and $1.6 million in investments.
Economic gains in the Peach State prompted Governor Brian Kemp to stop by a fishing company that’s a big catch in rural Georgia. “From an economic development perspective, our state continues to grow, continues to have great opportunities,” said Gov. Kemp.
As Georgia recovers from the pandemic, Gov. Kemp visited Georgetown to pay his respects to a local manufacturing company that has helped boost the state’s economy.
In July, Valdosta saw its all-time lowest unemployment level, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday. In Valdosta in July, the unemployment rate was down one and six-tenths of a percentage point to 3% over the month, an all-time low for the area, according to a statement from the labor department. A year ago, the rate was 7.3%.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that southwest Georgia saw a decrease in the unemployment rate over the month as the number of employed rose by more than 1,200 in July. In southwest Georgia, the unemployment rate was down one and six-tenths percentage points to 3.6 percent over the month. A year ago, the rate was 7.3 percent.
Georgia officials say the state is geared up for the accelerated timeline to boost electric vehicle sales recently ordered by President Biden. Georgia has seen growth in the electric vehicle manufacturing sector with global leaders setting up facilities in the state. Officials said the growth of the industry is so fast, it is hard to keep track of its ongoing economic benefits in the state.
There is a new form of mining in Washington County, and the development authority thinks it can have a lasting impact on the area's economy.
Education in Georgia
Georgia State University released a new study this week that shines light on the effect the pandemic is having on our students. The study finds that students spent half as much time on average in class than they would have normally, and they learned less too. There was a direct correlation between time spent and grade performance, which is in line with some of the Georgia Milestone figures we reported last week.
The Georgia Department of Education and Technical College System of Georgia have collaborated to develop statewide articulation agreements that will allow students to receive TCSG college credits for certain courses in high school. This new development will widen a student’s pathway to a degree and reduce duplication of courses. “I would like to commend GaDOE and TCSG for equipping students with the skills needed to thrive in the workforce. As we improve technical education in Georgia, we are investing in our future and ensuring that we remain the #1 State for Business.” said Governor Kemp.
The Georgia Board of Education adopted new mathematics standards this week. This was a campaign promise from Gov Kemp, that Georgia would take a hard look at our standards and ensure that local teachers, school administrators and community leaders had the opportunity to provide input and feedback.
Georgia’s COVID Efforts
The FDA made the major announcement this week that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been given full approval. A local health official in North Georgia says that she has seen vaccine hesitancy decrease firsthand. “Our administration rate overall has been higher than it has been in previous weeks on a daily basis.” Leyna Mashburn said. Currently, 260 patients are being treated for COVID-19 at Northeast Georgia Health System hospitals. Only 15% percent of those are breakthrough cases with the other 85% being unvaccinated.
While the pandemic continues to spike, Governor Kemp is sending aid to hospitals around the state in the form of 105 members from the Georgia National Guard. “This Georgia National Guard mission is in addition to the 2,800 state-supported staff and 450 new beds brought online I announced last week, at a total state investment of $625 million through December of this year,” he said.
A U.K. study that tracked data from roughly 30 million people came to the conclusion that having at least one vaccine shot greatly reduced the possibility of health risks. Researchers saw that those who had gone unvaccinated were nine times as likely to develop platelets; stroke risk was also higher for those without a shot. We here at Weekly Roundup World Headquarters encourage all of our readers to talk to their health professional about any and all vaccines (and possible booster shots) that are available to make the best decision for you and your family.