Immigration supporting Atlanta’s housing market, combined with new Canadian and other foreign investment, will continue to buoy Georgia’s rebounding economy, Canadian economist Craig Wright predicted during a luncheon here last week.

“The U.S. housing market will probably come off recent highs by year end, but immigration flow helps to determine housing growth, so Atlanta and Georgia are in a good position,” Mr. Wright, vice president and chief economist of Canada’s RBC Financial Group Inc., said during a talk at the Capital City Club downtown.

“The Atlanta region’s population growth is two times the national average, so this supports housing development.… Georgia and Atlanta in particular have done well at attracting new businesses here, including foreign businesses,” Mr. Wright, told GlobalAtlanta following the luncheon that was hosted by RBC, the Canadian Consulate and the Canadian American Society.

New businesses and jobs are what Georgia needs to continue its economic growth, Mr. Wright said, noting that the state’s employment rate increased moderately last year, up one percentage point from 2003-04. Small- and medium-sized businesses in Georgia have begun to increase their hiring rates, but large corporations typically still have not, he noted.

Mr. Wright told GlobalAtlanta that he predicts Canadian companies will increasingly invest in Georgia as the economy continues to improve, citing a favorable tax code and skilled labor as strong incentives for investment here.

At least 130 Canadian-owned facilities, including RBC Financial Group’s RBC Centura Bank, already operate in Georgia, providing some 8,300 jobs.

Canada-based Novelis Inc., for example, the world’s largest rolled aluminum company opened its new offices in Buckhead on March 11.

Canada is Georgia’s top trading partner, with $4.2 billion in exports to that country in 2004, or approximately one-fifth of the state’s total exports. While exports are also important for sustained growth in Georgia’s economy, they are not the only path to economic recovery, Mr. Wright added.

RBC Centura Bank has 27 branches in Georgia and plans to add five more before the end of the year, according to the bank’s regional president for the Georgia market Drew Atkinson Putt.

Mr. Wright analyzes and forecasts macroeconomic and financial market trends and contributes to RBC Financial Group publications, including Financial Markets Monthly. Visit for the latest issue.

For more information, contact Ms. Putt at