ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Secretary of State Brian Kemp had high praise for Alpharetta’s economic development efforts as Georgia’s economic recovery picks up speed.
Nearly 200 people turned out for the inaugural breakfast networking meeting of the new Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce Jan. 16 at the Metropolitan Club to hear Kemp’s message.
“I feel optimistic of where we are headed in Georgia,” he said. “Things are starting to come back. Housing and manufacturing are slowly but steadily returning to the state.”
Meanwhile, Kemp said Alpharetta is on the right track to secure the city’s economic future.
More communities need to look at what Alpharetta has done in attracting technology companies to the city, he said.
“These are the types of things that are putting Georgia on the map,” he said.
Georgia is also gearing up to create jobs and new companies. The state has started a fund to help Georgia startups. Companies that are Georgia-based, sell to Georgians and use Georgia financial institutions are eligible for up to $1 million in grants.
Georgia is one of only two states using such a proactive economic development program, Kemp said.
On the tip of everyone’s tongue at the breakfast was the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect business.
Kemp said no one quite knows the full effects the law will have on the costs to businesses, and that is harming the economy and recovery efforts.
“People are scared to death to make full-time hires because they don’t know how it will play out,” Kemp said. “It’s not just small businesses. It will affect everybody. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Kemp said he is doing his best to get Georgia out of the doldrums.
Since Kemp was elected in 2010, he said his department has seen a steadily declining budget and equally declining staff, while conversely gaining more responsibilities.
One way Kemp aims to remedy this situation is through the office’s new website. Whatever can be taken care of automatically or electronically only helps streamline the process both for his workers and the public.
“We want to be a leader in the country when it comes to technology and innovation,” Kemp said. “But we have more work to do.”
One issue is he is tackling Georgia’s runoff elections laws. According to Kemp, the state has traditionally held primary elections in July. The federal government holds them in May and is now demanding that Georgia do the same.
“Right now, we have two sets of primary elections,” Kemp said. “That’s confusing to voters and is an administrative nightmare.”
His office is working with the General Assembly to do coordinate with federal mandates.
The new Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce focuses on helping local businesses network with one another. Its 7:30 a.m. breakfasts meet the third Thursdays at the Metropolitan Club at 5895 Windward Parkway, Alpharetta, are just the first step.
For information, visit www.alpharettachamber.com.