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Guest Column

George Israel: Georgia poised for economic growth

george_israelweb2By Guest Columnist GEORGE ISRAEL, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and a former mayor of Macon

Congress heard some good news this past week as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernake testified that the U.S. economy should start growing out of the recession by the end of the year.

But that is cold comfort to the 5.1 million people who have lost their jobs during this recession, including nearly 500,000 in Georgia.

Despite these trying economic times, the Georgia General Assembly took clear steps to position Georgia for economic growth and job creation. Legislators took decisive action to provide a state economic stimulus package with passage of bills to stimulate job creation and economic investment along with tax relief for property owners.

Just this past week, Governor Perdue signed some of those bills into law. The first bill will eliminate the state inventory tax. Georgia is one of just six states that still taxes business inventories, so eliminating this tax will make Georgia more competitive. This tax change still requires public approval through a referendum vote in 2010 before it goes into effect.

A second bill signed into law by the governor this past week will provide job creation tax credits to companies based upon the level of pay for those jobs. Essentially, it rewards companies with larger tax credits for creating higher paying jobs.

An additional bill that awaits a decision by the governor would provide tax credits for companies hiring unemployed workers and would also reduce the state’s tax on capital gains.

In this economy, incentives from government to put people back to work and provide businesses and individuals an incentive to invest should be embraced. That is why we are hopeful the governor signs this bill into law.

Businesses are not the only beneficiaries of the General Assembly’s insight.
Property owners in Georgia hit with depressed property values may actually get some relief on their property tax bills.

One new law requires local property tax assessors to consider foreclosures in setting property values. Another bill also signed by the governor this week actually caps current assessments for the next three years.

During a legislative session that has sometimes been characterized more by its misses than its hits, these bills recognize that the engine of economic growth and recovery will be fueled by business.

The efforts by the General Assembly to incentivize business job creation and investment and offer some tax relief to property owners will help Georgia lead the way to economic recovery.

1 Comment

  1. Walter L. Johnson II May 11, 2009 4:35 pm

    Good article. Still, when it comes to economic development and growth, the wealth should be spread all across the state, not just in the metro Atlanta area. The other metropolitan areas statewide, as well as the rural areas, could use a much-needed boost from the federal stimulus package, at least in terms of quality economic development, especially when it comes to the creation of jobs.Report


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