Kemp touts record-breaking jobs year, buoyed by EV factories

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Gov. Brian Kemp, in a late Wednesday press conference, touted his administration’s efforts to recruit jobs and investment to Georgia, but in particular to parts of the state outside metro Atlanta.

Kemp, a Republican, has centered his reelection campaign on the economic growth of Georgia in an effort to stave off his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams. Both are trying to convince Georgians that their policies would result in the most economic investment.

On Wednesday, Kemp emphasized job growth to come in his rural Georgia base.

“I’m proud to know that 85% of the investments and a majority of the jobs created this past fiscal year went to communities outside the metro Atlanta area,” he said.

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The state reported 51,132 private sector jobs recruited in the year ended in June, totaling $21.2 billion in promised investment. Georgia attracted two of the largest economic development projects in state history: Rivian’s EV plant an hour east of Atlanta and Hyundai’s EV plant near Savannah.

Those projects are expected to come online in late 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Kemp said that even without the Rivian and Hyundai projects, the state would have still set a job record over the past year.

Abrams has credited Democrats, specifically Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, for laying the groundwork for the companies to come to Georgia, and she’s criticized the billion-dollar state-backed incentive packages used to seal the two EV factory deals.

“Hear me clearly, we don’t have to raise taxes,” Abrams said Wednesday of her agenda. “All we have to do is raise our expectations of those who lead us.”

Abrams has also criticized Kemp over controversial abortion and gun laws that she says will hurt Georgia economically.

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Kemp took jabs at his opponent and the Democrat-led Congress throughout his speech. He criticized the Inflation Reduction Act, which the U.S. Senate passed last weekend. He said it would raise taxes and further harm high inflation, which he’s repeatedly blamed on President Joe Biden.

Democrats have said the bill will help combat climate change, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, lower the deficit and create millions of jobs.

“If anyone wants to suggest that we aren’t delivering on jobs and opportunities for everyone in the state, they should get their facts straight before commenting on things that they simply do not understand,” Kemp said. “Numbers are not like politicians, they do not lie.”

Georgia broke a record yet again in direct spending from TV and film producers in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, hitting $4.4 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Georgia also has a unemployment rate below 3% for the first time in state history.

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A note of disclosure

Cox Enterprises, owner of the AJC, owns about a 4% stake in Rivian and supplies services to it. Sandy Schwartz, a Cox executive who oversees the AJC, is on Rivian’s board of directors and holds stock personally. He does not take part in the AJC’s coverage of Rivian.