Nearly half of all Georgia’s record-breaking $7.4 billion in investment recruited over the last fiscal year came from foreign-based companies, according to figures the state released this week while celebrating yet another top business ranking.
More than 44 percent of the announced investment capital — or $3.28 billion — came from overseas during the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The governor announced an overall record of 332 projects while revealing that Area Development magazine had named Georgia the No. 1 state for business six years running. That’s a separate ranking from the Site Selection magazine designation that the state has held for seven years.
Mr. Kemp, who traveled to South Korea in July, praised international investors for recognizing the state’s business friendliness and investment potential.
“We are proud of our worldwide appeal and partnerships with countries across the globe,” Mr. Kemp said at the news conference.
Asia alone accounted for almost a third of the total capital investment and 2,961 announced jobs on 23 projects, one-tenth of the more than 29,000 jobs promised by all investors during the year.
That influx was led by the $1.7 billion Korean-owned SK Innovation battery plant that broke ground in Jackson County in March, promising more than 2,000 jobs over five years.
But the support from South Korea was widespread: 13 Korean projects represented the highest investment proportion from a single country, Mr. Kemp said.
That lend some credence to earlier assertions by Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, that this year was a unique time for attracting Korean projects.
“Korea is our hottest market for FDI,” Mr. Wilson said in June.
European investments provided nearly as many jobs as Asian investment, even on less capital spending. Georgia announced 32 European locations totaling $708 million and 2,835 jobs, according to figures provided to Global Atlanta by the department.
Canada, a perennially strong trading partner, also showed heavy investment interest, with eight locations stacking up to $206 million in proposed capital spending and 149 jobs.
South American companies put four new locations into Georgia, with $24 million in investment poised to create 153 jobs.
Area Development tracks the business friendliness of states by gauging the perceptions of a cadre of site consultants, accounting firms and other service providers.
While Georgia topped the list on average, it also ranked first in specific categories: cooperative and responsive state government, workforce development programs, competitive labor environment and speed of permitting.
Area Development Publisher Dennis Shea said cooperation is particularly key in an era of intense competition among states where companies have more advance information than ever via the Internet. Fortune favors the swift states that can work with various stakeholders to get things done quickly.
“They have to have the information and they have to have the cooperation to get these jobs done, or guess what? They go down the road,” Mr. Shea said.
At the news conference, Mr. Wilson praised the governor for his support of the department, echoing comments during a Global Atlanta interview on the state’s Asian investment strategy.
“From day one, Gov. Kemp has walked into this office and has been a huge supporter of what we do in economic development,” Mr. Wilson said at the news conference.
Mr. Kemp seized the moment at the State Capitol to praise the state’s logistics network, its pool of “hardworking Georgians” and a film industry that continues to thrive despite the threat of boycotts over the so-called “heartbeat” abortion bill, saying the state appreciates “those who invested in our state and respect our values and our way of life.”
“When I travel there is certainly no shortage of things to brag about. We are a leader in aerospace and agriculture with some of the best planes and pecans you can find. Businesses look to Georgia for fintech. We’re the cyber capital of the south, which is safeguarding military and civilians alike,” he said. “Momentum is on our side and the world is taking notice.”
The governor, who has focused heavily on rural development, was particularly proud that 74 percent of projects located outside of metro Atlanta, which he praised as the state’s “logistics hub and jobs magnet.”
Representatives from Kroger, which has put major warehouse investments into Georgia, and Nivel Parts, which makes aftermarket parts for golf carts, gave testimonials of the state’s advantages.
Susan Song, a vice president of Jacksonville-based Nivel said that the company is hiring 75 people at its existing plant in Cairo, Ga., to make it a Center of Excellence for the company. Georgia Quick Start, the state’s workforce training agency, provided a grant.
“U.S-based manufacturing is a core part of Nivel’s story and our brand. We believe it’s a competitive advantage and a point of differentiation as there are very few companies in our category that actually make products in the USA,” Ms. Song said.
Read more about the state’s fiscal year results in Global Commerce (which includes both domestic and international investments) here.