Local officials aren’t talking enough about economy

Matt Ramsey's picture

State government to maintain focus on jobs and the economy and so must Fayette County.

With the Georgia General Assembly less than two months away from convening for the 2012 session, it is the time of year when there is much discussion about possible legislative agenda items.

As has been the case the past several years, one of our primary focuses will be on building upon efforts to create an environment in Georgia that is conducive to job creation and economic recovery.

Evidence of those efforts are demonstrated by the fact that business and economic development publications alike have recognized and conferred numerous accolades on our state’s business climate.

Area Development Magazine recently conducted a survey of economic development consultants and they ranked Georgia as the No. 2 most desirable state for doing business in the country.

In June of this year, CNBC ranked Georgia as the Number 4 overall state for business in the country. In the last year both the Kauffman Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have ranked Georgia as the top state for entrepreneurial activity in the country.

These are but a few of the many examples of our state being recognized for its positive business climate.

This kind of positive recognition has resulted from our state maintaining favorable tax, budget and regulatory policies (second lowest state tax burden in the country) and by showing a willingness to focus and invest in things like infrastructure, education and quality of life issues that businesses look at when making decisions about where to invest their resources and bring jobs.

Competition for economic investment between states is fierce and what these accolades mean is that as our economy recovers and businesses start up and expand, Georgia will be well positioned for economic growth in the decade ahead.

However, there is still much more that needs to be done. This is exactly why Governor Deal and the legislature will continue to focus on critical competitiveness issues such as tax and regulatory reform in the upcoming session and sessions ahead.

As we all know, a vibrant state economy is the driver of a myriad of issues critical to Georgia citizens such as home values, access to more and better jobs and quality of life issues such as education and community safety.

Of course economic growth and vitality is of critical importance to Fayette County’s present and future as well. As the state economy grows and economic activity increases, the competition will be fierce between communities in Georgia to attract investment into their areas.

Fayette County’s future and the quality of life that we all hold dear will be largely dependent upon our ability to maintain and attract jobs and business investment into our community.

In that regard, I would strongly urge our locally elected officials here in Fayette County to renew their focus on critical economic and quality of life issues.

As a voter in Fayette County I sure would like to see newspaper columns from local candidates and elected officials providing specific ideas about what they believe Fayette County should do to meet future challenges rather than the constant barrage of vitriol and backward looking record parsing that have become the hallmark of our local politics.

Like the vast majority of families in Fayette County, when my wife and I sit around the kitchen table and talk about local issues, we don’t talk about minutiae from city and county meeting minutes of years past or about the genesis of squabbles between whatever the current factions in city or county government might be.

Rather, we talk about things like the quality of our young children’s education, the safety of our community and the value of our home. The “average voter” (of which I am one) in Fayette County all desperately want this community to continue to be a great place to grow up, raise a family, operate a business and even retire.

However, it seems there has been very, very little public discussion by local candidates for office or by local elected officials in recent years about what specifically they believe Fayette County should do to maintain our quality of life and meet the challenges of the years ahead.

To that end, just as state leaders are focused on promulgating policies aimed at ensuring Georgia’s economic vitality and competitiveness relative to other states, I sincerely hope our locally elected leaders and candidates for local office will focus their energies on Fayette County’s economic vitality and competitiveness relative to other localities in Georgia.

We have much to be proud of in Fayette County. However, families and businesses alike are rightfully concerned about the future of our community given the challenges we face.

With 2012 and another election season right around the corner, I hope the discussion in Fayette County by city councils, the County Commission and on the election trail in the coming year will be focused on our future and the critical issues being discussed around the kitchen tables of Fayette County. The citizens of this great community deserve nothing less.

[Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) was first elected to the District 72 post in December 2007. He is a law partner with Warner, Hooper, and Ramsey, P.C., in Peachtree City. His email is matt.ramsey@house.ga.gov.]

Robert W. Morgan
Robert W. Morgan's picture
Joined: 10/26/2005
Right on Matt, you're playing my song

First of all, you are doing a great job and we appreciate your efforts at the state level.
And therein lies the problem you outline - local officials should be talking about the economy. You are at the state level and our local officials are here. Your local officials are the same as mine - all 10 of them. They are all part-timers and fall into 4 groups:

New and unproven - McCartney, Fleisch, Dienhart
Damaged goods - Haddix, Brown
Hidden agenda and self-serving - Frady, Hearn, Horgan
Trying, but no accomplishments - Imker and Learnard

And more to the point, none of them were elected to grow the economy, instead they were elected to replace someone by running campaigns against "evil" individuals or concepts - West Fayette Bypass, Smith, Maxwell, Logsdon, a possible black county commissioner, etc. They can do this and get elected because of a voter turnout that hovers around 10% which to me means THAT NO ONE REALLY CARES!!!!

So sure, like you I would like to see some positive input in the newspapers and blogs and possibly town hall-type meetings about the importance of business development and job growth with actual ideas on how to get there. Scott Bradshaw touches on this from time to time, but everyone else is busy throwing rocks at someone or something. Of course the dirty little secret is that none of the 10 mentioned above really have any significant experience in business development and wouldn't recognize it if it walked into their meetings. Maybe the new EDC in PTC will be super-qualified and educate everybody. Right.

Mike King
Mike King's picture
Joined: 11/29/2006
Let's Talk Economy

Fayette County was one of the last counties in Georgia to raise its sales tax from five to six percent and new business start ups suddenly ground to a halt. Sadly, it was done on the recommendations of local politicians who saw it as the cure all for what ailed our County. We believed those we elected, and by popular vote we approved our local SPLOST back in 2003, and all we have to show for it is a West Fayette Bypass that actually doesn't bypass anything, and a dependence by local governments who refuse to live within their means..

Now a measure, HB277, from our State Legislature is asking for another ten year SPLOST that will do little for our county, but will add another one percent sales tax to enhance the roadways in and around Atlanta. Sure, we can live with a seven percent sales tax like they do in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, but why have those commuters from Coweta, Douglas, Carroll, and Cherokee Counties been relieved of this burden?

The most prolific thing any elected official can do to foster economic growth is to actively rail against this TSPLOST because adding an additional one percent cost of living tax every few years actually drives those entrepreneurs and new businesses elsewhere.

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