Georgia Chamber CEO Chris Clark: 8 for 18 Business and Legal Climate

Chris Clark

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Over the last decade, Georgia’s business climate has been highly ranked by a number of national publications. You have no doubt heard that Georgia has been ranked the Best State for Business for five years in a row. Private and public sector leaders have worked hard with Governor Deal to bring new investments and jobs, improving the quality of life for Georgians. To continue this prosperity, Georgia leaders must maintain the momentum and prioritize improvements in our business and legal climate. Keeping Georgia open for business leads off our discussion of the Georgia Chamber’s 8 for 18 initiative, which highlights the issues that our elected officials must address during the 2018 election cycle.

While Georgia has made great progress in criminal reform our neighboring states have taken steps to improve their civil judicial systems.  Entrepreneurs in Georgia are too often trapped in a legal system that hasn’t kept up with a fast-changing digital business world. While there is more work to do in the coming years, Georgia voters have the opportunity this November to make great strides in improving our legal fairness by voting Yes on Amendment #2 to create a statewide business court. A statewide business court reduces litigation costs by removing complex, time consuming cases from the general docket and allows this opportunity to be available to all Georgia business owners, regardless of zip code. Statewide business courts already exist in the Metro Atlanta area and we need to expand this opportunity to the rest of Georgia. Businesses of all sizes will benefit from a system that helps speed up complex litigation between two businesses and lets our existing courts focus on serving everyday citizens.  

But our legal climate isn’t the only area where Georgia can make improvements. The state made significant progress this year when Congress and the General Assembly both passed legislation that reduced federal and state income taxes at the personal and corporate levels. Taxes are a bottom line issue for companies of all sizes, and we’ve been thrilled to see so many Georgia companies immediately pass these tax cuts on to their employees through bonuses, raises and by further investing in their communities. A strong tax policy environment will help businesses of all sizes make long-term investments that will help Georgia for generations to come. Even with these successes, there are still issues that have the potential to slow down our economy while helping maintain Georgia’s strong credit rating.

Small businesses constantly tell us they are frustrated by the level of government regulations that make it hard to start or expand their operations. Our regulatory environment should encourage innovation. Small businesses want to work to remove outdated mandates and regulations allowing authentic, innovative ideas to flourish in our state. Permitting and licensing reform should be pursued to make it easier for individuals to transition into new careers, and government services should be modernized to lower costs and improve these services. Our systems should be pathways to opportunities, not obstacles to prosperity.

Georgia’s success has been the result of the partnership between the private and public sectors, providing consistent leadership and deliberate actions. To continue our success and further prosperity for more Georgians, our leaders must stay focused on the issues that matter most to ensure we remain competitive. Our opportunities are numerous when we work together to bridge gaps and find common ground for success.