Economic Yearbook: Facing Up To The Challenges

Clearly Georgia is in the throes of the same economic recession that is hammering virtually every community in the country. But as Georgia Trend writers talked to economic development officials and civic leaders throughout the state, it became apparent that local leaders are not despairing, not simply wringing their hands and hoping things will get better. Some are actively pursuing projects, and many are working to lay the groundwork and prepare for projects they believe will materialize when the economy begins to improve.

Make no mistake, Georgia’s economic developers are a bunch of hard-nosed realists. They understand the challenges and are feeling the pain of tough times. But there is a resolve, a determination and even a cautious sense of optimism that comes through when you listen to what they have to say.

Metro Atlanta lost a number of jobs but managed to add nearly 6,000 new ones. Northwest Georgia is awaiting a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, and several northeast Georgia counties are joining with their neighbors in regional efforts.

West Central Georgia is preparing for the opening of the new Kia plant and an expansion at Fort Benning. Central Georgia is paying particular attention to retaining existing companies, and east central Georgia is enjoying the benefits of its medical community and the presence of Fort Gordon.

Southwest Georgia is looking to its agricultural resources, and southeast Georgia is benefiting from activity at Fort Stewart.

Stories in the Economic Yearbook were reported and written by Susan Percy, Jerry Grillo, Shannon Wilder, Ben Young and Ed Lightsey. As in the past, Georgia’s 159 counties are divided among eight regions.

The Simon S. Selig, Jr. Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business provided the statistical information for the tables in the yearbook that show population, employment and personal income. The project was carried out by the Selig Center staff, with assistance from student assistant Kelly Lau.

The layout of data presented in this year’s edition of the yearbook has been changed from that of previous years. Because of the volatile economy, we decided not to present long term projections based on recent trends. Instead, we present historical trends for 1990-2000 and trends for 2001-2008. Population and income data for 2008 have been projected based on 2003-2006 trends (income) and 2003-2007 trends (population).

Estimates of population, employment and per capita personal income for 2008 are based on extensions of existing trends, and reflect growth or decline based on data that already have been recorded.

Total population estimates are based on data through 2007 from the U.S. Census Bureau. County population projections for the year 2008 have been controlled to the projected state total for that year. Employment data are for March covered employment, defined as jobs, by place of work, covered under Georgia’s unemployment insurance law, and are not comparable with other nonagricultural employment statistics. Employment estimates are based on information through March 2008, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data for per capita personal income, by place of residence, were derived from data through 2006 issued by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and are given in current dollars.

Readers may visit the Selig Center’s website ( for current employment and income information. – Susan Percy, Editor

Read the individual stories:

Metro Atlanta



West Central


East Central



Categories: Economic Development Features, Features