JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – It was a sparkling evening Jan. 25 at the Atlanta Athletic Club as the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 2013 gala, “The Jewels of Johns Creek” with Diamond sponsor the Gwinnett Medical Center.
In addition to the Chamber Board of Directors, enjoying the evening were the City Council, Mayor Mike Bodker and County Commissioner Liz Hausmann.
Distinguished guests included Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other members of the Legislature including President Pro Tem of the Senate David Shafer, state Sen. Brandon Beach, Sen. John Albers, state Rep. Lynne Riley and state Rep. Mike Dudgeon.
In making his remarks to the 230 attendees, Cagle said these are still tough times for Georgia but there are positive signs for the future. While the 2013 budget is austere, it required no tax increase and the state retains its AAA bond rating.
“What we have learned is that we cannot continue to do the things we once did to be successful,” Cagle said.
While Georgia prided itself in its diversity of companies bringing jobs and prosperity to the state, it had become heavily reliant on the construction industry and its real estate boom to fuel continued growth.
“When the [nationwide] real estate market fell, it was responsible for fully 25 percent of our unemployment,” Cagle said. “The focus now must be on innovation and technology.”
There are already major assets in place such as Savannah, the fastest growing port on the East Coast preparing to be able to accept the new supertankers that can pass through the Panama Canal. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest in the world.
And Georgia’s technical colleges are building the workforce to serve in the new technological era to staff the IT companies that are already coming to Georgia and bring the state into a new era of prosperity.
“It will be like going from papyrus to texting. Last year, Home Depot did $60 billion in revenue with stores on every corner. Meanwhile, Amazon.com did $50 billion in revenue with no bricks and mortar,” Cagle said.
“But this economy creates for us the opportunity to market ourselves globally.”
Cagle pointed to one company in Athens that did $200,000 in sales annually, and then it went global on the Internet. The first year, it did boosted sales to $500,000. Last year, it did $3 million.
That is an example of the scale of growth possible in the Information Age, he said. And the key for Georgia is to train the next generation of IT designers, programmers and innovators. With the technical schools in place and coming online such as North Fulton’s technical school, the future for Johns Creek and North Atlanta is indeed bright.