Funny how an act as simple as turning the page from December to January can infuse even the most pessimistic among us with hope for new beginnings. Here’s hoping 2012 proves kinder on several fronts than did the just departed year.
One particular area in which we look forward to better news in the coming year is that of job creation and economic growth, and a good place to get the ball rolling would be the state legislative session that opens next week.
Georgia, like every other state in the union, needs jobs in order to shore up a shaky state economy and to get thousands of individuals back on their feet financially. Forsyth County has fared better than much of the state, thanks to a generally solid business foundation and continuing growth, but even here the economic story isn’t what it once was.
The state is beginning to see some slight hints of economic improvement — tax collections for November were up 7 percent over the previous year, and unemployment numbers are moving in the right direction, though at turtle speed. But there is still a long way to go to reach a level of economic stability, and the high-rolling boom times of just a few years ago remain just a dim and distant memory.
Not that long ago Georgia was on a growth and development binge that seemed to have no end in sight. But even years of economic prosperity weren’t enough to shield us from the financial woes that have plagued the rest of the country. And in fact, we’ve been hit worse that some areas, as evidenced by the large number of banks in the state that have been closed over the past two years.
We need jobs to rebuild a sound financial future. In a speech made last month, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle promised that this year’s legislative session will be focused on creating them. We hope he’s right.
There’s no doubt there will be a host of major issues confronting legislators when they gather under the Gold Dome for their annual legislative session: transportation, water, education, public safety, taxes, budgets. But finding ways to encourage business and industrial growth so as to put more Georgians to work will help to address a lot of the state’s major woes.
It’s hard to solve lingering budget problems when Georgian’s aren’t earning any money. Jobs will cure that. It’s hard to allocate needed resources to education and public safety when the state’s coffers are empty. Jobs will cure that too.
We need to put people to work, and we need creative, realistic ideas for doing so. Finding ways to rebuild the state economy for the future, getting Georgians off the unemployment rolls and on the payrolls, and enticing new companies to bring jobs to Georgia that have long-term sustainability will go a long way toward addressing many of the state’s current woes.
It’s not an easy task, but it can be done. The first step is for lawmakers to make job creation a top priority when they head toward Atlanta later this month. We hope they will do so.