Doing Business in Georgia
Georgia has a strong, vibrant business environment. Our state tax rate is very competitive nationally, and state law mandates a balanced budget. Georgia is a right-to-work state with a highly skilled workforce and world-class universities. For 2011, Georgia has maintained its AAA bond ratings, the highest bond ratings possible, from all three major municipal bond rating agencies: Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's. Georgia's centralized location, in the fastest growing region in the U.S., offers international businesses a thriving community of global commerce and the most culturally diverse environment in the region; 76 countries have a consular, trade, or chamber of commerce office in the state; more than 2,500 internationally owned facilities representing 52 countries are doing business in Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development is the state's lead sales and marketing agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, and locating new markets for Georgia products, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.
Georgia's Environmental Protection Divison one-stop permitting process handles all requests for permits that are required by state and federal environmental protection legislation. This permit procedure provides review of environmental considerations without the time consuming need for an Environmental Impact Statement. The Bioenergy One Stop Shop, conducted by the Center of Innovation for Energy, is a working meeting in which pre-qualified businesses are brought together with representatives from more than 20 state and federal agencies. Companies are given the opportunity each month to present their bioenergy projects and leave with materials to streamline their start-up or growth process. An overview of the One Stop Shop is available in the publication, Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy Biomass One Stop Shop, from the Southeast Agriculture & Forest Resource Alliance (SAFER).
Georgia provides a wide variety of incentives for eligible projects. The OneGeorgia Authority oversees tobacco settlement funds used for development in the state's most economically challenged areas. In addition, local development authorities, cities, counties and private-sector groups can offer innovative and creative solutions that can be substantial. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has additional information about other programs.
Georgia's location offers the perfect gateway to the Southeast, United States, and world markets. Georgia is the 9th most populous state in the U.S. The Southeastern United States is one of the largest and fastest growing U.S. markets with more than 50 million residents. Georgia provides immediate access to the region's largest consumer markets - 10% of the population in the Southeast lives in metro Atlanta and 80% of the U.S. population is within a two-hour flight of Atlanta. From Georgia, trucks reach more than 80% of the U.S. industrial market within two days. As the western most location in the Eastern Time Zone, (G.M.T. -5), Georgia shares common business hours with the majority of the U.S., Europe, and Central and South America.
Georgia's 6 percent corporate income tax rate applies only to the portion of income that is earned in Georgia. Currently, Georgia is transitioning to a sales only corporate income tax rate. Georgia will be the first state in the Southeastern United States to make this change. Georgia also offers an array of tax credits and exemptions to new and expanding businesses. For further information please contact the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Georgia provides an unparalleled transportation and logistics infrastructure that seamlessly connects air, sea, rail and roads.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest, most efficient airport, from which businesses can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within two hours or any major North American city in four hours. Hartsfield is also the world's leading air cargo center.
Georgia has state-of-the-art, deep-water ports in Savannah and Brunswick operated by the Georgia Ports Authority. The Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing, and fourth largest, port in the United States. It is the largest foreign commerce port on the South Atlantic coast offering global container service. It is also the western-most container port on the Atlantic coast, making it much closer to the heart of the U.S. market than any other eastern seaboard port.
Both Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX Transportation provide international rail service throughout Georgia along the largest railroad network in the Southeast United States: a 4,700-mile rail network that connects to five major interstates.
Georgia companies are within a two-day drive of most of the U.S. via more than 1,200 miles of interstate highways and 18,000 miles of federal and state highways. Georgia offers an advantage to carriers by having the lowest fuel tax in the United States at 7.5 cents per gallon.
Georgia's workforce is young, well-educated, and growing rapidly.
More than 100,000 people move to the state each year, making Georgia the 8th fastest-growing state in the U.S. With a 2010 population of 9.7 million, Georgia's population is expected to exceed 12 million people by 2030. And that population is getting younger: more than half of Georgians are between the ages of 20 and 54.
Georgia's university system is the 4th largest in the country, totaling 13 state universities, four research universities, seven state colleges, two regional universities, nine two-year universities, plus an integrated network of 34 technical colleges with multiple campuses. This access to education assures that businesses in Georgia are fueled by skilled and knowledgeable employees. Each year 50,000 graduates of technical, four-year and two-year colleges enter the Georgia labor force. GeorgiaHire.com is a free, online recruiting service that helps companies find the college-educated talent they need.
Georgia's nationally recognized QuickStart program provides flexible, customized training through a network of technical colleges and universities. Since 1967, more than 5,600 companies and 706,000 Georgia workers have benefited from this no-cost program.