This year we are pleased to welcome State of Georgia Europe Office to our Chamber and share on our blog an interview conducted with the State Commissioner Pat Wilson.
Please describe briefly the history of STATE OF GEORGIA as an organization. (history of GDEcD)
Originally called the Georgia Department of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Economic Development was established in 1949 to promote the state’s wide range of valuable assets to our domestic and international partners.
Over the past several decades, GDEcD has evolved with Georgia’s increasingly diverse and growing economy. The Department is the executive state agency for attracting new business investment from all over the world and encouraging the expansion of existing industries and small businesses.
GDEcD is also heavily involved in aligning workforce education and training with in-demand jobs, locating new markets for Georgia products, supporting the tourism industry and promoting the state as a destination for filming and television projects, and the arts. In addition, the Department is responsible for planning and mobilizing resources in the state and with local communities to further advance economic development.
Tell us about your career path and your main role in STATE OF GEORGIA.
I have been involved in government relations in Washington, D.C., and Georgia since 1997, and I’ve worked with GDEcD specifically for more than 10 years. Prior to being appointed Commissioner of the Department by former Governor Nathan Deal, I served as GDEcD’s Chief Operating Officer.
As Commissioner, I have the privilege to work with an amazing team every day, partnering with industry, government and communities to create jobs and opportunities across the state, which is pretty incredible.
Whether identifying new export markets, investing in higher education and technical college programs, or attracting a company to build their U.S. headquarters in Georgia, GDEcD is likely involved in the process, and as Commissioner I get to work with the people behind these transformative projects and decisions.
What´s the main element that you feel most proud of your organization?
Jobs change lives and enhance the quality of life of our citizens. I am most proud of the fact that the work of our team leads to job growth and opportunities for Georgians, the strengthening of our economy, and investment in education, infrastructure and our communities.
Additionally, our organization’s relationship approach to doing business makes me very proud, because it sets Georgia apart from the competition. We care about people behind the companies and organizations we work with, and we want Georgia to be a part of their long-term success.
A majority of the opportunities we’ve been able to create have been born from relationships that our state spent years developing, either from expansions of businesses that want to grow here or new businesses that have visited our state or met our people perhaps at a trade show or conference, or a delegation’s international visit, and decided they wanted to make Georgia home. Some of those most fundamental relationships are our international partnerships.
Why did you choose to join AmChamSpain?
The State of Georgia has maintained representation in Europe since 1973 – nearly 50 years! We appreciate our community of Spanish investors in Georgia. Twenty-two Spanish facilities in our state employ nearly 700 Georgians, and they play an important role as part of our communities. Our Europe office works directly with investors to build and maintain relationships that provide support for companies who decide to make an investment in Georgia. Sergio Domingues and our team there are dedicated to getting businesses the information and resources they need to make decisions and succeed in the state.
Our bilateral trade partnership is only growing, too. Georgia imports from Spain totaled $501 million in 2019, and over the past decade, exports from Georgia to Spain have nearly doubled, reaching $457 million in 2019. Last year, Georgia exports to Spain increased 4.6% over the previous year.
Additionally, AmChamSpain and GDEcD hold very similar core missions.
Both of our organizations were created to improve our respective economies and create global opportunities. By working together, leveraging opportunities and learning from one another along the way, I think we can deliver on both of our missions, especially as we look toward economic recovery from COVID-19 as an international community.
Which do you consider to be the most important strengths of STATE OF GEORGIA facing the new normality?
The diversity of the state’s economy, in addition to our state’s relationship approach to doing business, has kept the State of Georgia well-positioned for recovery, despite the pervasive impacts caused by COVID-19. During the month of August alone, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) helped generate more than $642 million in new investments and create 4,036 jobs for every skill level and in nearly every corner of the state. Despite COVID-19, job creation is 1.5 times higher than the same two months last year.
These jobs haven’t been isolated to a single industry either. From food production and advanced manufacturing to brand-new tech hubs, the wide range of jobs and projects the state attracted during the month of August are emblematic of the fundamental strength of Georgia’s diverse economy. We look forward to continuing to work with our private and public sector partners so we can keep the momentum going.
For more information, please contact Sérgio Domingues, Managing Director of the State of Georgia Europe Office at firstname.lastname@example.org