Green jackets and red carpets are part of the 61st tour of Georgia as business leaders from around the world descend upon the Peach State.
The Augusta Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, welcomes business leaders to spend four days learning what the Peach State has to offer. The tour began yesterday in Atlanta with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion, hosted by Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp.
“I talked last night about a great team we have here,” Kemp said. “It’s not just the governor, it’s not just the departments, we have a lot of folks here today that are a part of that.”
Those partners were part of the crowd welcoming the business leaders to Augusta’s Red Carpet Tour, including Augusta Mayor Garrett Johnson and members of the county commission, Columbia County Commission Chairman Doug Duncan, Terri Lodge Kelly, chairman of the Burke County Commission and business executives from across the CSRA.
Accompanying the visitors was Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“It’s really an amazing way for us to show not only the benefits of doing business in the state, but how hospitable we are, show the benefits of coming to Georgia,” Wilson explained. “It’s a unique opportunity for us to host these folks from all over the world. And it has led to tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment.”
One of the highlights of this annual tour is taking the businesses leaders to spend the day at the Augusta National Golf Club to enjoy the first day of competition at the Masters tournament.
Gov. Kemp said introducing those on the tour to what Augusta, and the state as a whole, can offer them as encouragement to bring their companies to the state is the primary goal.
“We have been the number one state for business for nine years in a row,” Kemp reminded the attendees. “Last year, statewide we had 142,000 new jobs, we had over $60 billion in investment that was announced last year, a record for our state. The vast majority is outside the metro Atlanta area.”
Although Augusta is the highlight of the Red Carpet Tour, it also visits at least one more area of the state. This year the group also visited Columbus.
“We haven’t been to Columbus in a number of years. And Columbus, like Augusta and Macon really has some amazing things going on,” Wilson said. “And so, we get to show that off and do some whitewater rafting and visit Fort Benning.”
Although the goal of the tour is to attract new business development in Georgia, it is also used to encourage existing companies to expand their businesses.
The tour wraps up on Saturday when the visitors return to Augusta and enjoy one more day watching the Masters.
Wilson said, every year, he hears one thing from the visitors.
“Oh, my gosh, that was fantastic. That is almost to a person,” he said. “That’s followed by a request to be invited back.”