Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sound criticism

While this Political Insider post deals largely with the chances of Roy Barnes running for governor in 2010, it also deals with some issues that have been on my mind as of late regarding our state's economic development efforts ...

Barnes didn’t mention (Gov. Sonny) Perdue, the man who beat him — not by name. But there’s no question buyer’s remorse would be a major part of any campaign strategy.

“What scares the business community, and I understand it completely, is if [Georgia] ever gets labeled as a state that can not address and solve its own problems, then our growth future is going to be very dim,” he said.

“If I were governor, I would be very concerned, for example, that the bio-science center is going to Kansas. And we were third behind Kansas and Mississippi.”

(Last week, Perdue pointed to “a small activist minority” in Athens as “the definitive reason” for the loss of the $450 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.)

Barnes's comments parallel this editorial by the Athens Banner-Herald and my thoughts from yesterday, and they further suggest a glaring problem with Perdue's approach to economic development ... namely that he doesn't have a coherent one.

In some areas, we throw an irrational amount of incentive money at prospective businesses hoping we can buy their way here, while in other areas (like NBAF) we fall way short in that department ... all the while, drastically cutting our investments in education, quality of life and infrastructure. Such a herky-jerky strategy has produced mixed results for Georgia with our job growth lagging way behind other states in our region (we had 2.1 percent more jobs in September 2008 than September 2001, while five other Southern states experienced 6.9 percent job growth).

The governor's inability to recognize that other factors outside of a group of protesters - most significantly his slashing of job-enticing investments - played a major role in our missing out on NBAF (and our other economic struggles) is one of the most bizarre disconnects from reality I've seen in a while.


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