FORSYTH COUNTY -- Georgia has been named the top state in the nation to do business in for the third year in a row, and local companies and economic development officials understand why.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday the 2016 Top States for Doing Business ranking published by Area Development, a corporate site selection and relocation magazine, which detailed factors that have resulted in a “thriving economic environment.”
“In the last year, global manufacturers, innovative technology companies, film companies, growing small businesses, international firms and industries of all kinds decided to open operations in Georgia, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs for families and investing millions in our communities,” Deal said. “With our economic and workforce development initiatives, Georgia leads the way in providing a business-friendly environment and a highly qualified workforce to support growing business.”
The rankings reflect the results of a recent survey that asked site consultants to give their top states in 10 categories that impact companies’ location and facility plans.
Responses were weighted by giving three points to their No. 1 choice in each category, two points to their second choice and one point to their third choice.
Of the 10 categories, Georgia ranked in the top six spots for each category and earned the top nod for: overall rank; cooperative and responsive state government; and workforce development programs. The state ranked second in: competitive labor environment; regulatory environment; and speed of permitting.
“An integrated and statewide approach to economic development puts everything from workforce to global commerce to innovation promotion to film industry support under one umbrella — and virtually every county is regularly touched by state economic development support in one way or another,” Area Development said.
These accolades have not gone unnoticed by local business development officials.
“We’re having the best year we have had in a very long time in terms of seeing new commercial investment in the community at a really nice scale,” said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has announced 14 new firms moving to Forsyth County this year so far, creating “601 new jobs and $97.1 million in new capital investment from business,” he said.
He noted Georgia’s business friendly tax structure and regulatory structure and “relatively speaking, good investments in infrastructure,” including having an established and busy port and airport, as ways the state has opened the door for growing business.
Locally, McCoy said Forsyth County has an enticing environment to promote economic development.
“I think the quality of our schools, our very focused strategy around advanced manufacturing, technology and health care — we see tremendous movement in those areas,” he said.
If workforce development programs are a high point for Georgia, Forsyth County is following in those footsteps.
“It’s a much bigger issue than I think people realize. It’s also a tremendous challenge. The competition for talent, particularly in those three areas is tremendous,” McCoy said. “As a result of that, we have to be really competitive.”
Workforce development programs in high schools — including the new Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County, a high school college and career academy set to open in fall 2018 — and through local campuses of the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College aid that competition, he said.
The top five states for doing business rounded out with South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana.
For the full study, visit areadevelopment.com.