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Economy To Be Key Issue In Ga. Governor's Race

By CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY

ATLANTA (AP) a¿¿ Gov. Nathan Deal gathered top elected officials and executives from three major Georgia-based companies at the Capitol on Tuesday to announce Georgia had been recognized by a national trade publication as the top state in the country to do business.

How the state's economy has fared in the last few years is expected to be a big issue as Deal runs for re-election next year, and the governor used Tuesday's event to claim he had made good on one of his campaign promises.

"Now you have heard me saying it often, you would think it's a broken record, that my number one goal has been to make Georgia the number one state in which to do business," Deal said. "In only three short years, for the first time ever, Georgia ranks number one in the United States as the place to do business."

Georgia was recognized by Site Selection magazine as the state with the best business climate, besting North Carolina which had claimed the title last year. The magazine cited such economic development projects as carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group's plan to invest $85 million to build a facility in northwest Georgia with an estimated 500 jobs, along with Engineered Floors plan to build two new facilities that could employ as many as 2,400 people.

The rankings don't account for things like unemployment or the state's high school graduation rate. Georgia's unemployment rate measured 8.7 percent in September, among the highest nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, roughly 70 percent of Georgia's high school seniors graduated last year.

"I'm glad that Georgia has gotten a good ranking, although I am concerned the direction this administration is putting us in is sending us in the wrong direction," said Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker. "We have to do a better job of increasing opportunities for Georgia and not only bringing businesses to Georgia but businesses that improve the quality of life for Georgia citizens."

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