Monday, June 15, 2009

Recession Starting to Affect Local Economic Development

Source: Savannah Morning News
By Arlinda Smith Broady, Savannah Morning News, Ga.

Jun. 10--Even with our diverse economy, Savannah isn't immune from the downturn that's plaguing the rest of the nation.

At its regular board meeting Tuesday, the Savannah Economic Development Authority reported that it's still attracting business but on a smaller scale than usual.

In his sales report, SEDA Senior Vice President Lynn Pitts told how projects for this month have been on par with the previous years: six inquiries, seven company visits, 11 new projects and 49 total active projects.

That isn't too far off from 46 active projects a year ago.

However, there are no major employers among the prospects as there were last year with The Great American Hanger Co. bringing in 50 full-time jobs with a small production facility on site.
"Seven of the new projects are with very small companies, and half of those are start-ups," Pitts said.

He said the past six weeks have shown just how much of an impact the recession is having on local economic development.

In his presentation, SEDA President Rick Winger outlined how the prosperity in many parts of the nation has given way to rampant unemployment. The Southeast as a whole is catching up with the rest of the nation, he said, and the state of Georgia, at 9.3 percent, is slightly above the national rate of 9.1 percent.

"In early 2007, most areas showed job growth with the exception of Detroit," Winger said. "By the beginning of this year, all you see is (job loss)."

But SEDA has a strategy to bring in jobs and economic growth.

"We've revamped our marketing plan for the second half of the year," Pitts said. "We're going to reallocate funds and change the way we do business. ... When times get tight, it's a good idea to re-up marketing."

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