3 Realities for Better Business in HD95
If you were to take a snapshot of House District 95 from the perspective of economic development, you would find one of the best regions in the entire state of Georgia to do business. We're really proud of our district, whether it's Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Duluth, Berkeley Lake, Johns Creek or any of the neighborhoods in between, we have a great deal to be proud of.
Being a small business owner in the area herself, Beth fundamentally understands the needs of the community. With a lot of areas in the nation trying to enhance themselves to be able to meet the needs of 21st century businesses, it's very common for smaller municipalities to focus only on the benefits given to the businesses that move in, without giving a lot of thought to the communities those businesses will serve. Fortunately, the aforementioned economic development hubs throughout House District 95 are great places to do business, and they do so in a way that respects and engages the communities they exist in.
Just the Beginning
Listen to the discussions going on all over the state in terms of what various leaders are saying is needed. Georgia already has one of the lowest business tax rates in the nation. To be sure, this is an incentive for business, but it isn't just about numbers and figures. This is missing the forest for the trees.
The advice given is too often more of the same — lower taxes (again), and government "getting out of the way." The problem is that government is short hand for "we the people." There are, indeed, some places where government can go a bit too far. But it's through the partnerships between government and business that we have the economic development and growth that we currently enjoy.
You Can't Cut Your Way to Growth
This is a truth that all Fortune 500 CEOs know all too well. Cutting expenses does a little bit in terms of maximizing profitability, but it can become something like cutting off your leg to lose some weight. Whereas it will literally bring weight down immediately, the pain and residual damage done can severely impede the ability to function.
If you were to ask your average registered dietician if a person should choose between simply cutting out things in their diet versus substituting healthier choices, the likely advice is going to be toward making better choices, not just cutting things out.
The reason for this is that when humans tend to outright cut things out of their lives, it tends to cause a sort of regression and compensation for the lost element of their life. Cutting out sweets more often than not results in binge eating desserts, which does far more harm than any good of cutting the initial thing.
The answer to government acting poorly in the interests of its people is not to cut that government, but to transform it through your vote into an entity that fulfills its promise and serves its residents.
The Real World
Three of the biggest issues facing communities right now in our district actually have little to do with tax offerings to businesses. In the era of Amazon, the state of Georgia offers very generous incentives, local municipalities offer extremely low millage rates to businesses and everything that can be cut to sweeten the deal usually has been. So what are they?
Healthcare, transit, and the so-called "religious freedom" legislation, or RFRA for short. Unsure how these things affect business opportunities in House District 95?
1. Major companies want to be located near transit hubs.
In the largest metropolises in the nation, transit isn't something that ends at the city line. In New York, Chicago, D.C., Boston, San Francisco — really any major hub of economic activity — there is transit that goes far outside the city and into the suburbs. Only in Atlanta has this concept really been ignored. But it's the way our metro area evolved. But now, that decision could really come back to haunt us. The lack of convenient transit options in House District 95 severely impedes economic development. We need to fix this if we are to have any hope of staying power for what we've worked so hard to develop.
2. RFRA-like legislation pushes companies away.
The federal government has a RFRA law. In fact, Bill Clinton signed it into law. So what's the deal? Why is it a problem in Georgia? The federal government also has a Civil Rights Act — Georgia does not. What gets left out of the RFRA argument is that the federal legislation is balanced by the protection of LGBTQ individuals, and without such legislation in Georgia, a RFRA law basically gives some businesses the right to discriminate against people no differently than during Jim Crow in the South. The last thing successful businesses want is to re-locate to a region which stands to permit the discrimination of their employees. This is exactly what RFRA does and it's why we need to prevent it from passing. The First Amendment protects religious speech. RFRA laws simply serve to give the majority coverage to discriminate. Amazon is on the line in this respect, and you better believe other companies will as well. RFRA is a job-killer.
3. People need healthcare to work.
Once a small business has 50 employees, it's required by law to offer health insurance. Before this size, it's a toss up. So sometimes, a small business will employ someone part time and then the person is left to their own devices for healthcare. If the job doesn't pay enough, the employee will qualify for Medicaid. Unfortunately, in Georgia, the state's utter failure to expand healthcare means that there are 240,000 neighbors in our state who cannot go to the doctor when they're sick or injured. A business does its part to take care of its employees, but a business also expects the local government to do its job. A person needs healthcare in order to be a consistent employee at work and Georgia's failure in this respect has severely harmed our economic development.