ATLANTA - Georgia has seen record economic growth since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was ranked the top state to do business in the country for the 9th straight year. State lawmakers say Georgia's workforce will be a key focus this legislative session.
Gov. Brian Kemp and other state legislators spoke during the annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast at the Georgia World Conference Center Wednesday. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual event.
Gov. Kemp pointed to this week's announcement of Solar panel manufacturer Qcells' upcoming expansion of operations into Georgia with two new plants and some 2,500 new jobs, as the latest example of Georgia's strong business environment.
But that economic growth comes with growing pains. Georgia business leaders, like their counterparts nationwide, are experiencing an unprecedented labor shortage.
"The work force. It's our most challenging issue," the Governor remarked. "But it's a great issue to have because we are creating so many jobs."
Kemp said state lawmakers will focus on long-term solutions.
"We have got to continue to work on our workforce development here. We do that better than any state in the country. Our job training is better than anybody in the country. We got to keep getting people into that system," Kemp said.
The Governor is expected to host an education-business summit this fall to elaborate on how to grow Georgia's workforce. He'll also work with the general assembly to tackle the shortage of affordable housing.
"It's a tough issue," Kemp said. "It's one of the things that we are hearing from our companies that are expanding and creating jobs, and it's like our workforce can not live locally. We want people to live in the community where they are working. It cuts down on logistics. It cuts down on the need for infrastructure, and it just honestly makes for a better quality of life."
While business was a central focus of the discussion of Wednesday's event, lawmakers said crime and healthcare will also be key issues they'll take up this legislative session.