The website AreaDevelopment.com is a leading authority on economic development projects in the United States.
Each year the organization recognizes the best states for economic development and awards them “Gold” or “Silver” shovel awards.
According to Area Development, annual awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high-value investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. Information is collected from all 50 states about their top-10 job-creation and investment projects initiated in 2012 (only those projects that actually had monies invested, "broke ground,"" began an expansion, started new hiring, etc. were considered). Based on a combination of weighted factors - including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state’s population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities, the diversity of industry represented - four states achieving the highest weighted overall scores are awarded Area Development's 2013 Gold Shovels in four population categories: 10+ million, 5+ to 10 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Runners up in each of these population categories are awarded 2013 Silver Shovels.
Georgia is the “Gold Shovel” winner for the category of states that have between 5-10 million people. According to the report, If you ask an economist to tally the state's gross domestic product in current dollars, you'll find that Georgia has weathered the recent economic storm quite well, and much better than average. Its GDP dropped only one year (2009), and since then has grown at an average annual clip of 3.8 percent. That's some solid performance, but not surprising for a Gold Shovel winner. In delivering the most recent economic outlook late last year, Dean Robert Sumichrast of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia predicted the state would outpace the national economy this year, as it often has. "There are two main reasons. First, the massive restructuring of the state's private sector is now complete. Our real estate bubble is in the past. The second reason is the opening of several large relocation and expansion projects, which will provide a tailwind to Georgia's economic growth," he explains.
The biggest project is actually a collection of pharmaceutical manufacturing projects from Baxter that add up to a billion-dollar investment and 1,800 new jobs. Caterpillar is not far behind, though, constructing a great economic success story with projects that will create 1,400 jobs. And the fast-growing auto industry is an engine of Georgia growth, too, worth a thousand new jobs at the Kia plant, plus a total of 1,200 more at Toyota Industries and a pair of suppliers. The cream of the crop here is a diverse list that also includes floor coverings, food processing, and distribution.