Perdue helped by gov’t.

In a recent TV ad, David Perdue looks into the camera and tells voters that “Government can’t create jobs, but bad government policies sure can kill them.”

That’s not close to being true. The three largest job-generators in Georgia are probably Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; the Georgia university system; and the ports of Savannah and Brunswick, which generate more than 350,000 jobs, including 100,000 here in metro Atlanta, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. All three economic engines were founded by and run by government.

Perdue knows that better than anyone. His two degrees were earned at Georgia Tech, and as someone who made his fortune in international business, he knows the value of direct access to just about every place on the planet, which Hartsfield provides. As a former director of the Georgia Ports Authority and co-founder of a business utterly dependent on the ports, he also knows how foolish it is to pretend that government is not a critical partner in job creation.

In fact, the history of that company, Perdue Partners, illustrates just how tight that partnership can sometimes be.

In April 2008, halfway through his second term, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue flew to China on a trade mission. That same month, employees of the governor’s grain-export and trucking companies began a series of meetings with state officials seeking help in boosting export business to China and elsewhere.

Heidi Green, then deputy director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, helped to set up the meetings, telling employees in one email that “Fyi, this is the Gov’s company.” Perdue’s businesses “are laying the groundwork so that when the governor leaves office, they will be in a position to start up an operation,” one port official reported in a 2009 internal email.

In January 2010, Perdue announced that he was committing $121 million to improve truck access to the port of Savannah. In July of that year, he named his cousin David to the port authority board of directors and promoted Green to head the Department of Economic Development. Trey Childress, the state’s chief operating officer under Perdue, also became an ex officio member of the ports board that month.

In September 2010, just four months before leaving office and returning to private life, Perdue took another taxpayer-financed trade mission to China, telling the press that his primary focus was to increase business at Georgia ports. And in April 2011, four months after leaving office, Perdue announced creation of Perdue Partners, a global exporting business focusing on importing, exporting and trucking operations through the port.

Its other three partners: David Perdue, Trey Childress and Heidi Green.

In three years’ time, a trucking operation that in 2010 boasted just 15 trucks and drivers now boasts 300 trucks and 500 employees, and while Perdue may not want to admit it, government played a critical role in that expansion. As the AJC’s Dan Chapman previously reported, Perdue spokesmen have insisted the company enjoyed no special assistance, but if so, “no special assistance” was still a lot of assistance.

In this case, as in many others, the mythology about the self-made businessman is just that: myth.