For Georgia, a new year and new promise
By Eric Tanenblatt
As we stand together here on the threshold of a new year, some introspection is due: deeds we’ve left undone, gaps left unfilled, rifts left un-mended.
Always there is more left to be accomplished. But as we submit to this annual call for reflection, let us this year not brood over the failings of the last and instead revel in the remarkable potential of the next.
Now, the setting of resolutions is never easy and keeping them is more difficult still. And for public servants, who must balance intention with the messy business of governing, the dilemma of resolution-setting and keeping is even more acute.
Yet in spite of the challenges, it’s an especially important exercise for those in government. The coming year holds great promise for the state of Georgia, but our elected leaders must resolve to realize those possibilities – of more jobs and less traffic, of higher wages and lower taxes.
As one who has devoted a career in service to his nation and state, it’s an altogether familiar exercise for me. So as a special gift to my friends in the capitol, I’ve done half the work by proposing here five public policy resolutions that, if honored, will transform our communities for the better:
- Preserve religious liberty for Georgians of all faiths while demonstrating to an increasingly connected world that discrimination is antithetical to the character of the state that birthed the American civil rights movement. Ours is a community dually girded in faith and diversity. And it’s this foundation, this Golden Rule of humanity, that compels us each to protect our neighbors—for their faith, the color of their skin, or the person they love. No Georgian should suffer prejudice for who they are, and it’s the duty of our legislature to ease those creeping concerns.
- Bolster the booming entertainment industry through continued smart tax policy that attract new film productions and through investments in workforce development programs that create a camera ready local labor force. Borne of a series of creative incentive packages, Georgia has become the singular preferred film destination in the American southeast. There was a period when these productions had to outsource their labor from California and other states, but today local film schools and workforce training programs have forged a highly skilled labor force right here.
- Ignite the tech incubators by fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s time to red line the red tape, freeing market disrupters in the gig economy to thrive. Our lawmakers must mindful not to handicap emerging business models. And as we work to minimize the bureaucratic hurdles to these firms’ success, legislators at the capitol should pursue proposals that spark venture capital investment in the space. If government is the biggest challenge to market disruptors, access to capital is the second — and Georgia can strategically foster an entrepreneurial environment in which neither exist.
- Unclog roadways by expanding our strategic investment in the state’s transportation and mass transit systems. Georgia’s business community—Atlanta now ranks as the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation—has matured at such a dramatic and constant rate that it’s plainly outpaced the state’s transportation and infrastructure. There are worse problems to have, certainly, but our emerging disrepute for traffic is exacting a penalty on human capital.
- Attract millennials by creating a political and economic climate that allows this generational cohort, already the largest in history, to thrive and encourages them to lay roots. Georgia needs them—their enthusiasm, their ideas, their civic engagement—if we wish to remain an economic force in the future.
These are bold ambitions and they won’t easily be honored, but that’s exactly why we must endeavor for them.
Eric Tanenblatt is a leader of the Public Policy and Regulation practice at the global law firm Dentons. He previously served in the Administrations of President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush, acted as a senior advisor to the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell, and served as chief of staff to Governor Sonny Perdue.