Americus chamber holds luncheon to discuss economy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Americus chamber holds luncheon to discuss economy

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AMERICUS, GA (WALB) -

The signs of recovery are there for Georgia if you know where to look.

Unemployment is down, the housing market is up and there are businesses moving into the state.  But there are plenty of challenges ahead. 

Unless you've been out of touch for the past few years, you know that Georgia's economy hasn't exactly been humming along. But it does seem to be getting better throughout the state.

"We saw particularly through last Spring and Summer we had announcements like Caterpillar, we had announcements like Baxter.  We saw an increase in port traffic," said Chris Clark, Georgia Chamber Of Commerce President.

Those are some positive signs for growth, but there are some challenges too.  All of that talk about the fiscal cliff seems pretty distant, but it does affect the economy in Georgia.

"Businesses are slowing up, they're not hiring right now.  They're trying to figure out what's going on in Washington," said Clark.

While the numbers are better, Clark says that the true results won't be known until early next year.

"It's going to be February or March before we really get a good picture of what unemployment numbers are going to be in Georgia," said Clark

But another problem is not necessarily due to external factors.

A lot of people look at Georgia as two different states. There's Metro Atlanta and there's everywhere else.  But Mr. Clark believes that you really can't look at the state that way, especially in terms of its economics."

 He says that in the 21st century, Georgia has only one economic engine, pulling together.

"The state economy is very intertwined," said Clark.

And one of the best ways to promote growth in the state especially in areas such as Americus is to take advantage of the factors that make people want to live there.

"One of the things that we've got is not only this wonderful quality of life, we've got a thriving tourism industry, two wonderful colleges," said Angela Westra, Americus - Sumter Chamber President.

Westra says that Sumter County's economy is looking up, but she says there's one thing that can make things even better.

"I think it's important that we have a cohesiveness and collaboration to do what we need to do to attract new businesses and to retain and support the existing ones that we have," said Westra

If that can happen, that would give everyone in the area a real present this holiday season

Clark says another challenge that will be coming down the road for the state will be the re-organization of the military bases, especially if any of those bases are closed. 

He says that in the short term, one spur for economic growth would be for Congress and the President to extend the federal tax cuts for all brackets, as they did two years ago.

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