Georgia fared better than most states during COVID-19 and boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, the economic success within our state is not enjoyed by all. Georgia ranks in the bottom half in wages and is almost dead last when it comes to the success of small businesses in the first year. A major reason is that we prioritize giving massive corporate tax breaks to attract out-of-state business, around $9 billion each year, as opposed to investing in helping Georgians get their small businesses off the ground. This is simply unsustainable if we want a thriving economy felt from the suburbs of metro Atlanta to our rural communities in the black belt.
We have to view small business ownership and success as the driving engine that powers our state economy, that sustains investment in our schools and communities, and that revitalizes areas long ignored. This means expanding affordable broadband so that rural families have the tools to further their work skills and education. This means expanding access to capital for young entrepreneurs to jumpstart new business ventures as well as ongoing no-cost counseling services to help business owners build a solid foundation or to stay afloat in times of hardship. This means looking first to state and local businesses where possible when opening up bidding processes to secure government contracts.
This doesn’t mean we stop trying to attract out-of-state corporations to our state. In fact, investing in our communities will make us an even more desired destination, because we will have the best environment in which to attract and keep talent. And we would much rather have companies doing business in this state who have a stake in its success as opposed to those simply looking for the best deal.