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Panel Urges State Science and Technology Commission to Invest In Georgia Job Engines

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A panel of industry representatives recently meeting in Macon, Ga., USA, has urged the Georgia Study Commission on Science and Technology to recognize the strategic value of Georgia's unique resources and the industries that develop their economic potential, and to create a welcoming environment for venture capital investments and job creation. Speaking at one of a series of Commission field hearings on developing a plan to enhance science and technology in Georgia, the Traditional Industries in Technology Growth panel called attention to the importance of maintaining and nurturing existing industries, on which rural communities depend, and in which technologies are developing innovative products to compete in world markets. The panelists also stressed the need for a high-level forum to develop priorities for research and development and the encouragement of new business investment.

The panelists were: Dan Floyd, operations manager of Renmatix, a biomass technology company founded in Georgia and with significant operations in the state; Phil Jones, Georgia Mining Association, and director of new ventures and disruptive technologies for Imerys; Norman Marsolan, chair of TAPPI and director of the Institute for Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech; and Randy McRae, Georgia Paper and Forest Products Association and senior regional government relations manager of International Paper.

Panelists advocated five recommendations:

  • Georgia should focus on leveraging its unique home-grown raw material assets where it can develop a strategic advantage over other states, and even the world, to create jobs in rural Georgia. Measures such as ad valorem tax structures to encourage reforestation are an example. Georgia's traditional industries are developing innovative products to compete in world markets, and must be maintained and nurtured. The state should fund a state-of-the-art timber inventory study to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on the state's standing timber resources. The State should also exempt from sales taxes the fuel and energy used in manufacturing.
  • Georgia should initiate a high-level forum with its key manufacturing industries to develop specific research, development, and investment priorities, and back this up with strategic investments.
  • Georgia should support initiatives for education and skill-building among current employees and the labor pool to prepare for advanced manufacturing requirements.
  • Georgia should create a hospitable climate for venture capital investment and job creation, while maintaining and nurturing its existing economic drivers in traditional industries. Policies must be fair to both existing businesses and new entrants as regards raw materials and incentives. Georgia incentives must become more competitive with those of other states.
  • Georgia's investment priorities should reflect the strategic value of its forests and unique mineral resources in rural communities.

The Study Commission was created through passage of Georgia S.R. 68. The Commission is to determine the most important needs of technology stakeholders throughout the state and create recommendations to develop and grow science and technology such that Georgia becomes a top technology state. The Commission's recommendations are due to the state legislature in January.

More information about the Commission, including a summary of the Traditional Industries in Technology Growth, is available online.


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