Five years, 500,000-plus new jobs in Georgia: Gov. Deal

Film and TV production contributed $6 billion to Georgia's economy in 2015.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
Source: The Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

Georgia's pro-jobs policies, logistics infrastructure and highly skilled workforce have made our state a top destination for business both nationally and globally. Since taking office in 2011, we have created more than 512,000 private-sector jobs, implemented pro-business tax reform and saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia's AAA bond rating.

While our population has grown from 10th in the nation to 8th, our unemployment numbers have been cut roughly in half from 10.4 percent to 5.5 percent.

One of Georgia's leading economic generators is the film and television industry. Georgia is now third in the world in terms of feature film production.

Georgia-lensed feature film and television productions generated an economic impact of more than $6 billion during the fiscal year 2015. The 248 film and television productions filmed in Georgia represent $1.7 billion in state spending, and more than 100 new businesses have relocated or expanded in Georgia, ensuring the state's place in the industry well into the future.

"Since ... 2011 we have created more than 512,000 private-sector jobs, implemented pro-business tax reform and saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia's AAA bond rating."

The primary building block of Georgia's business climate is our highly skilled workforce. In 2014, I created the High Demand Career Initiative, which connects the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia and key business leaders in our private-sector industries to meet the future workforce needs of Georgia businesses. TCSG's Georgia Quick Start is the No. 1 workforce training program in the country, providing free customized workforce training in classrooms, mobile labs or directly on the plant floor to qualified Georgia businesses in a wide range of new and expanding industries.

Georgia continues to see existing businesses expand and out-of-state companies relocate here, including Kia, Caterpillar, Porsche, Mercedes, Baxter Pharmaceuticals and Comcast. Some 20 Fortune 500 companies call Georgia home, including UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Home Depot and National Cash Register.

Georgia also boasts a solid and seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure — we are home to the world's most traveled airport and a top-ranked international air-cargo hub, the fastest-growing and largest single container terminal in America and six major interstates. We are also fortunate to be served by two Class I railroads and 24 short-line companies, giving our state the No. 7 rank in rail mileage, with nearly 5,000 miles of railroad track, the largest railroad network in the Southeast.

Our infrastructure investments are paying dividends domestically and globally. In fact, for the sixth consecutive year, we have reached a record level of $127.1 billion in total trade. Georgia companies exported $38.55 billion in goods and services in 2015, with Georgia imports totaling $88.5 billion. Based on these numbers, we know that Georgia companies are pursuing international markets and that international companies are looking to us for business opportunities, and our international representation is well aligned to support them.

Georgia has also evolved as the epicenter of the financial services or financial technology industry. Approximately 100 FinTech companies are headquartered or have a significant presence in Georgia, with 6 of the 10 largest U.S. payment-processing firms based in the state of Georgia. These companies and others process more than 118 billion transactions per year, representing over $2 trillion of purchase volume each year, supporting nearly 4 million merchants.

With the help of Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and citizens, we are a state committed to creating quality job and investment opportunities at every corner.

— By Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

Editor's note: This commentary was written before the release of the Top States 2016 data. The governor did not have knowledge of the rankings or the comprehensive data.