Southwest Georgia Shines During 28th Annual Georgia Quail Hunt

K.K. Snyder

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Albany and Southwest Georgia welcomed a record number of guests this week to the 28th Annual Georgia Quail Hunt. Nearly 30 site location consultants as well as recruitment and expansion prospects arrived in Southwest Georgia this week to learn about doing business in Georgia while enjoying the traditional quail hunting experience. 

The hunt, sponsored in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, connects area leaders with consultants or company heads looking to move or expand their businesses to Georgia in order to learn first-hand about the state’s numerous benefits for doing business here.

Governor Nathan Deal was on hand to meet the guests Wednesday night and said he enjoys the opportunity to showcase this area of the state. “We’ve had great success with this program over the years, and we continue to have job growth in our state, which is a welcome thing,” says Deal, noting that 467,200 new private sector jobs have come to Georgia since he took office in January 2011.

He called the event “one of those foundational pieces,” necessary for showing prospects that Georgia has successfully grown job opportunities across the state. 

Things were done a bit differently this year, says Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber, adding there was a more direct focus on this region.

“We want to show everything we’ve got because it’s not a one size fits all; not every project needs to be in metro Atlanta or in the Port of Savannah. They need to be in different places and we just need to be better about finding the right projects that fit here, like our focus on agribusiness.”

This year’s event includes more regional hosts and local officials, invited out to meet the guests and talk about the assets and benefits of doing business in this region, he says. Additionally, there were more guests in attendance than in past years, with 28 making the trip to Southwest Georgia this year, compared to 18 last year. 

“It’s the largest group we’ve ever had, representing hundreds of projects all over the world,” including headquarters projects as well as manufacturing, agriculture, and logistics and distribution.

The Georgia Quail Hunt is drawing on assistance from members of Locate South Georgia, a group of multiple chambers and development authorities who’ve joined forces to woo new business and industry to this corner of the state. Members not only brought in prospects, but they’re also playing host and volunteering during this week’s event. 

“It’s great to see bank presidents and others, driving people around, giving guests an opportunity to meet local folks who aren’t necessarily being paid to sell the community like the rest of us are, and they like that,” says Clark.

Also critical is the exposure local chambers and development authorities to statewide project managers, giving them an opportunity to share what’s available in Southwest Georgia, an easy sell when it comes to quality of life and the benefits of doing business in the region, says Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, citing the low cost of doing business and the low regulatory environment among attributes. Exposure to the region is vital to the opportunities that will present themselves in the future, whether it’s a year or 10 years following the event.

“If we can get people to come to Georgia and experience what we have going on….we make a case that it’s a great place to do business, but it’s also a great place to live.

“When you get a chance to be outdoors, come to the quail hunt, shoot skeet, see the RiverQuarium, you get to see what we’re talking about as far as living in Georgia and doing business in Georgia. That experience is really what we’re aiming for by bringing folks here and having our regional and statewide partners here. It’s a great opportunity.”

Since 1994, guests of the Georgia Quail Hunt have invested more than $2.5 billion and created more than 8,500 jobs in the state as a result of corporate locations or expansions.

“Our guests learn about the assets we have to offer in Georgia and the services we can provide at all stages of a company’s growth,” said 2016 Georgia Quail

Hunt Chair Daryl Ingram, senior vice president of Electric Cities of Georgia. “They experience some of the best quail hunting in the country while interacting with the governor, lieutenant governor, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, numerous state hosts and local chamber and economic development leaders. We hope to leave them with a strong impression of why Georgia is the No. 1 state for business in the nation.”

The Georgia Quail Hunt continues to be one of the premier economic development events in the nation, adds Clark. “We appreciate the support of our partners in continuing this valuable economic development event to attract and grow business in our state.”

In addition to the Georgia Allies, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Locate South Georgia, corporate sponsors include Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, MillerCoors, PowerSports Plus, Glock and Heckler & Koch.