Experts: GA growth to boom- in Metro Atlanta - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Experts: GA growth to boom- in Metro Atlanta

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Robert T. Sumichrast, Dean of the Terry College of Business Robert T. Sumichrast, Dean of the Terry College of Business
Mark H. Masters serves as Director of Projects at the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center Mark H. Masters serves as Director of Projects at the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Georgia economic outlook was the topic of discussion at a meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany Tuesday.

Experts offered forecasts on how Georgia's and the Albany area's economies will perform, including employment, income, population, and real estate.  

Robert T. Sumichrast, Dean of the Terry College of Business at UGA says the outlook is good, but there are still two Georgias, and will be for the foreseeable future: Metro Atlanta and the rest of us.

Sumichrast says he see Georgia's economy catching the national pace, and surpassing it. He says that restructuring in private real estate is improving, perhaps indicating that the real estate bubble is behind us, and the 'floor' has been reached.

He also says that massive corporate expansion and relocation has helped and will continue to help Georgia. Caterpillar, Baxter, and BMW are among corporate giants that are making big moves in the Peach State.

Those industries will offer over 50,000 new jobs in Georgia in the coming months.

Sumichrast projects South Georgia's growth to be slower that the metro Atlanta area, with agriculture again at the center of the growth.

The Zaxby's franchise owners in Albany have three locations, and are now planning to open a fourth. That will mean at least 50 more jobs. Another Georgia business seeing better days ahead in 2013.

"We've been very blessed. We continue to grow, and continue to exceed industry averages, national averages," said Zaxby's Director of Business Analysis and Planning David Waters.

Terry College of Business research shows the real estate bubble is in the past, and that several large industries are relocating and expanding in Georgia. Private business will be driving that growth.

"In fact we are going to see employment growth in everything. Business services, professional services will lead the pack. The only thing that is going to be losing jobs will be government. And so if you are in an area where there is a big dependence on government, you are going to see some problems," said Sumichrast.

Researchers say Georgia business investment should heat up after the new year, if Washington politicians take care of national budget questions.

"One of the big things that is underpinning our forecast for continued growth is not going over the fiscal cliff. And you may want to wait a few weeks and see just how that gets resolved or not resolved,"  said Sumichrast.

Businesses like Zaxby's are optimistic, and planning to grow.  "At the end of the day we know what to do. We got to get to work. Treat people well, and continue to invest and grow our business. We do that things will take care of themselves," Waters said.

For the first time in years, the Georgia economic outlook shows improvement and growth overall in both jobs and population.

Albany native Mark H. Masters serves as Director of Projects at the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center. In addition to research duties in the Water Center, focused on agricultural water use, basin planning and the regional impacts of alternative water policies, Masters serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources, teaching courses in Environmental Economics and Water Policy.

Beata Kochut joined the Selig Center for Economic Growth in 1994 and has since co-authored the Georgia Statistical Abstract, the Economic Yearbook for the Georgia MSAs and contributed articles to the Georgia Business and Economic Condition and the Georgia Economic Outlook publications.

Kochut is a regular contributor to Georgia Trend Magazine and an author of articles on biotechnology, transactions processing and the port industries in Georgia.

The researchers said aggressive economic development projects worked, bringing in many new industry expansions. But to keep growing, Georgia improvements need to be made in education and worker skills.

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