Gov. Brian Kemp offered two economic messages as he addressed the Gwinnett Chamber at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth on Monday.
One was that Georgia’s economy has been doing well this year, with much of the speech focused on highlighting several big economic development projects that have been announced this year.
At the same time, Kemp also said the future prosperity isn’t guaranteed for the state, particularly because of circumstances taking place outside Georgia.
“We’ve had a great run,” Kemp said. “I don’t think the economy is going to stay quite as good for me as it did through the (Gov. Nathan Deal) years, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I think we’re in a really good position.
“There’s just things happening around the world that are a little frustrating. You can’t really control them so we’ve just to deal with what we’ve got to deal with and keep chopping out there.”
Being prepared for the future was part of how the governor framed his recent decision to ask state departments to streamline operations and reduce spending.
Kemp said Georgia isn’t taking any chances and will use caution as it prepares for a future that could include a new economic downturn in the coming years.
“We are budgeting conservatively; we’re saving for a rainy day and we’re keeping taxes low, and this is the right time to be doing that,” Kemp said.
The threat of a possible recession is something that has been a topic discussion from the local level up to the national level this year.
At the end of March, University of Georgia professor Jeffrey Dorfman — who was just picked by Kemp to serve as the new State Fiscal Economist — warned Gwinnett leaders that a mild recession could be looming in the coming years.
Even the Gwinnett Chamber is keeping an eye on how the economy does in the coming years.
“We’ve just got to be smart,” new chamber president Nick Masino said. “The economy is not showing signs of a recession, but we’re a global economy and if tariff battles continue, we just have to be ready for it.”
But, by far, economic success is the drum Kemp beat most during his speech. So far in 2019, nearly 8,500 new jobs around the state have been announced by state officials, he said.
The long list of announcements Kemp highlighted included: 500 jobs at Wayfair in Clarke County; 500 jobs at Invesco in Fulton County; 100 jobs at Hitachi Automotive Systems in Walton County; 900 jobs at Stitch Fix in Douglas County; more than 50 new jobs at Nivel Parts and Manufacturing in Grady County; 166 jobs at Plastics Express at the Port Logistics Center in Pooler; and more than 150 jobs at Arglass Yamamura in Lowndes County.
“We’re working hard every single day to continue to build off that,” Kemp said. “We’ve been very busy and we’ve gotten a lot done, but we’ve got more to do. I promise that you that, as we’re continuing to as we say ‘Chop Wood’ every day.”
Some big announcements from Gwinnett that the governor touched on included more than 300 jobs at a CarMax customer center in Peachtree Corners and 1,000 jobs at a planned Amazon fulfillment center neat Stone Mountain.
Kemp said the state is still working on some new projects for Gwinnett, but he didn’t offer any hints as to what they are.
“We’ve got a lot of great things that we’re working on here,” he said. “I know there’s a lot going on and I appreciate you guys being involved in the chamber.”
Masino said its estimated that more than 3,000 new jobs and about $250 million in business investments in Gwinnett have been announced so far this year.
“It’s (been) a record year for us in job growth and in investment,” he said.
Like Kemp, Masino said he expects there will more big economic announcements in the not too distant future. He pointed to the upcoming Revel mixed-use redevelopment project at the Infinite Energy Center as a reason for his optimism.
“Revel hasn’t even broken ground yet,” he said. “That’s going to be huge in 2020 and 2021 (with) all of the job announcements that are going to come from that and the investment, you know, is almost $1 billion in public and private investments.”