AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – While the economy may have its ups and downs nationally, the state of Georgia and the Augusta area both have favorable outlooks for 2017.
We have reported a number of ground breaking stories and ribbon cuttings on NewsChannel 6 in the past year. All of those stories have announced jobs. That business success was part of UGA’s Terry College of Business Georgia Economic Outlook presentation. Dean Benjamin Ayers provided an outlook of those happenings here in Augusta and across the state and trends from past years.
“The unemployment rate, on average, will be 4.8 percent in the state of Georgia,” Ayers told the group.
Fewer people in the unemployment line means more jobs in the Peach State. Ayers told a group of government, business and organization leaders his forecast for the state looks favorable.
“Georgia is known for a place where the government officials work very well with key players in attracting businesses,” he said explaining the success.
Ayers said economic development, a wave of manufacturing jobs, a housing recovery and faster population growth are all in the Peach State’s future. Of all those, manufacturing jobs grew fastest with 45,000 in the past few years. The additions will also put people in Augusta to work with companies such as EdenCrete and Textron Specialized Vehicles.
“Having a skilled workforce that has the skill set in today’s economy, advanced manufacturing technology. That’s the strength of the Augusta area and the state,” he said.
Healthcare and Information Technology jobs win well with Augusta too with ADP and Unisys already on board.
Augusta Economic Development Authority Executive Director Walter Sprouse told the group the Garden City’s employment will exceed the state’s at 2.4 percent. With 34 projects in the pipeline, such as the recently announced Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, it can only get better.
Sprouse said, “It’s that wave. It’s that continued wave. Brooks Keel calls it the tsunami that’s in progress right now. And need to make sure that were ready for that.”
Sprouse added that everyone locally and regionally need to praise Augusta’s good work.
“We need to make sure that everybody in Augusta, not only in this room, but all over the county and the region is to talk about all the good things that’s going on here in Augusta. We’re very quick to criticize or to complain about something we should be even more eager to talk about all the good things that are going on here.”
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis told NewsChannel 6 the city is ready, despite the economic uncertainty Ayers says comes with a new leader in the White House.
“We’re going to remove the red tape from the local government standpoint. If they want to come, if they want to build, if they want to develop, we’re going to make sure that Augusta is open for business,” Mayor Davis said.
With growth comes a need for infrastructure. Mayor Davis said the stormwater fee is a funding source that allows for multiple infrastructure projects approved by the commission.