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Columbus to create 18,000 new jobs in only 5 years!

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The information below is from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. The entire article can be viewed hereColumbus massive job growth

Columbus is expected to be Georgia's economic star over the next five years, one of the state's top economists said Friday. Dramatic growth at Fort Benning, Aflac's campus expansion and a hot construction industry will be the engine driving growth in Columbus. Overall, 3,600 jobs will be created locally this year, with as many as 18,000 materializing through 2010. According to Jeff Humphreys, director of the University of Georgia's Selif Center for Economic Growth, he said, "This year's projected 3 percent employment growth rate will make Columbus the hottest job performer out of all 14 of Georgia's major metro areas, including Atlanta". "The Columbus economy will shift from first gear, where it is right now, into second or third gear this year, and then upward from there." Humphreys' predictions came Friday during the Columbus Regional Bi-State Economic Outlook luncheon at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. The event, which attracted more than 300 business and community leaders, is held annually by UGA's Terry College of Business.

Ft. Benning:

The repositioning of troops and civilian employees should boost Fort Benning's permanent work force by 8,800 over the next four years. The installation, famed for training infantrymen since 1917, is picking up the U.S. Armor Center and its tank training from Fort Knox, Ky. Local housing construction will be led by a $500 million, 10-year upgrade of more than 4,000 dwellings on Fort Benning, while the private sector off post is expected to add single-family homes and apartments at a fast clip to keep up with the military demand. Many of the new military and civilian workers will bring family members to the community. When all is said and done, Humphreys said Columbus could add as many as 30,000 people to its metro population. The U.S. Defense Department also is planning to funnel another $2.7 billion in construction projects to Fort Benning for its heightened mission needs and facility upgrades.

AFLAC:

The supplemental insurance firm is spending $100 million on the project, which will add 2,000 jobs over the next two years. Like Fort Benning, Aflac's injection of capital into the community will generate as many as 2,000 additional jobs, Humphreys said, with other businesses -- such as restaurants, stores and service companies -- opening or expanding to support the growth. "Not only are you going to have the largest public economic project in the state with Fort Benning, you'll have the largest private economic development project with Aflac," Humphreys said

Hospitality Industry:

The hospitality industry, meanwhile, looks to become an even bigger player in the local economy this year with the city on the verge of attracting 1 million annual visitors for the first time in its history. Last year, 965,472 people visited Columbus, according to data compiled by Columbus State University. Smith Travel Research, a tourism consulting firm, is forecasting a 6 percent increase in the city's visitation this fiscal year. That would mean an additional 58,000 visitors and put the city over 1 million. Softball and soccer tournaments, military training and reunions, corporations and traditional sightseeing tourists all contribute to that number. At the same time, construction should begin this year on six or more new hotels in the city. Possible brands include Country Inns & Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Microtel, Ramada, Sleep Inn, Staybridge Suites and the upstart extended-stay chain Value Place.

Auto factory shopping:

One area of interest for both Georgia and Alabama is the possibility of a new Kia automotive assembly plant. Several communities have been mentioned as potential sites for the factory, which would employ at least 2,000 people and generate several dozen smaller supplier plants in its general vicinity. West Point, Ga., and Lanett, Ala., both situated off Interstate 85 north of Columbus, have been mentioned in news reports as possible locations for the plant.

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Any thoughts on Columbus's massive job growth?

obviously this is GREAT news! Now if we could only caplitalize on it and get that Kia plant. In that connection I am hearing some disturbing news. The State (not local) officials may be dropping the ball by concentrating on retaining Ford in Atlanta to deriment of Kia in West Point. Several factors in play: "bird in the hand" syndrome; Purdue's dislike of W Ga. democrats especially in the Houuse (Smyrie, etc). Hope that my info is not right and that State does not lose this one!

On another topic, I am hearing rumors that AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) may be dusting off plans for new chip factory. Several years ago Columbus was finalist for new $2B (that's billion)+ plant employing 2500 @ average wage of $50k. However, the eventual decision was to beef up Asian production and plant went to Singapore. If AMD decides that now is time to ramp up US production, word is that Columbus will be at the top of the list -- having been the first runner-up last time. The problem is water. Questions being raised as to whether Atlanta's present and future demand for Chattahoochee water will leave enough down-stream flow to supply huge chip plant (which uses enormous amounts of water-- most of which is recycled). Anyone hearing anything about AMD project?

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Any thoughts on Columbus's massive job growth?

Man that's great news. Hope it comes through. Those effected by the layoffs at Char-Broil and Panasonic could use something like Kia (and all the supplier plants) coming to this area. I imagine it would help "close the gap" between Columbus and WestPoint/Lanett and Auburn/Opelika.

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I think this is great news for Columbus and for Georgia. I find Columbus to be a charming city with greta potential. It was only a matter of time before it was discovered. I was last in Columbus a little before Christmas and I must say that it was a lot more interesting than I had imagined. More jobs equal great vitality for the Columbus metro. It's great that a city other than Atlanta can pull to the forefront. It won't be long before AFLAC is looking to add to the Columbus skyline. I can't wait. :yahoo:

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obviously this is GREAT news! Now if we could only caplitalize on it and get that Kia plant. In that connection I am hearing some disturbing news. The State (not local) officials may be dropping the ball by concentrating on retaining Ford in Atlanta to deriment of Kia in West Point. Several factors in play: "bird in the hand" syndrome; Purdue's dislike of W Ga. democrats especially in the Houuse (Smyrie, etc). Hope that my info is not right and that State does not lose this one!

Georgia Ford plant will be idled in 2008.

So now that the Ford plant in Atl is being "idled", you have to think/hope Georgia will really go after Kia. Kind of bitter-sweet though. Losing those jobs at the Ford plant.

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Georgia Ford plant will be idled in 2008.

So now that the Ford plant in Atl is being "idled", you have to think/hope Georgia will really go after Kia. Kind of bitter-sweet though. Losing those jobs at the Ford plant.

I personally hope that Gov. Sonny Perdue and the state of Georgia go after the Kia plant. The loss of the Ford plant was a tax blow to the city of Hapeville but oddly enough many of the workers didn't even live in the immediate area or north of I-20. Many workers are at retiring age and will retire but for the workers with less senority, I would hope that the state could have some type of program to get them a job at the new Kia plant. I have taken trips to the Columbus area and from parts of the sotuhern metro, Columbus is not that far away. It is possible to live in Meriwether and work in Columbus.....you more likely to get to Columbus from Meriwether Cty quicker in the morning than you can get from Lithonia to the Perimeter Center area.

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It is possible to live in Meriwether and work in Columbus.....you more likely to get to Columbus from Meriwether Cty quicker in the morning than you can get from Lithonia to the Perimeter Center area.

Quite right! Altho Meriwether is part of Atlanta SMA, southern part of the county (Warm Sprs, Manchester)

are more closely tied to Columbus. As a matter of fact, Manchester is a member of the Valley

Partnership which is administered by the Columbus CoC.

The Kia site is in Troup County (maybe Harris?) which is even easier to get to from Columbus than Meriwether

County. I-185 is a straight shot to the West Pt exit and to I-85 (Atlanta or Lee County AL). Let's hope that the loss of Ford will spur the powers that be to get cracking on Kia and give those folks (and the GM workers) a break!

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I know this hasn't been talked about in awhile, but here are some stats on the job growth in the Columbus area (does not include Phenix City?Auburn/Opelika) right now.

New Jobs

1) Aflac 2,000

2) Road America 300

3) Kia (West Point) 2,500

4) PCI 100

5) Mobis (West Point) 600

6) Sun Fresh Beverages 50

7) Cessna 150

8) Xpress Materials LLC 100

9) IMS Inc 16

Total jobs = 5,816

This is just what I could find. I know FedEx is expanding in Columbus creating around 100 new jobs I believe. I am sure there are quite of a lot more.

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Found this on the Columbus Chambers website:

Fort Benning, Kia and Aflac

Economic Impact Estimate

Direct Jobs 16,000

Capital Investment $4.2B

Population Increase 41,235

Family Units 16,234

School Enrollment 9,400

Additional Retail Sales $416M

Sales Tax Revenue $24M

Personal Income Per Year $482M

Bank Deposits Created $781M

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Economic state of Columbus: City will add more jobs and grow faster than any other 2nd tier city

Outlook suggests that short, mild recession wouldn't faze city

Columbus should be able to weather a mild to moderate recession in 2008 without much pain, economic experts with the University of Georgia's business school said Friday.

But should a national and state downturn become severe and prolonged, all bets are off.

That was the stark forecast issued by UGA's Selig Center for Economic Growth, a data-crunching think tank operated by the university's Terry College of Business.

The annual Georgia Economic Outlook was delivered to a large gathering of businesspeople and community leaders Friday at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.

"The 2008 outlook for Columbus is good. It's not great because the current condition of the U.S. economy can be very accurately described as near recessionary," said Jeff Humphreys, an economist and director of the Selig Center.

"If a recession comes and it is mild, it will bypass Columbus," he said. "But if it comes and it's sharp, and especially if it's long, you're going to get hit."

The forecast, presented at lunch over plates of roast beef and mashed potatoes, essentially was a two-course meal. The first was hard to swallow, with Terry College Dean Robert Sumichrast cautioning that Georgia's housing, manufacturing, agriculture and information sectors are already in recession.

"Downturns in those key industries put the entire state's economy dangerously close to the tipping point," Sumichrast said. "However, we haven't tipped yet. Our economy is still growing, but there's a great deal of uncertainty. There's a great deal of turbulence in our future."

Chance of recession

The Selig Center pegs chances for a recession at 40 percent, with the first half of this year the most perilous.

The second helping of prognostication, however, pitched by Humphreys and Fred Green, chairman of the Fort Benning Futures Partnership, was much easier to digest.

Both pointed to major projects in the development pipeline that should ease any economic ills that come the city's way this year, and virtually makes it immune from a downturn over the next five years.

Supplemental insurer Aflac, headquartered in Columbus, is in the middle of an expansion that should add 2,000 jobs, while the Kia auto assembly plant in nearby West Point will begin hiring the first of 2,500 workers this year. Another 3,000 auto supplier jobs are anticipated in the region.

The thick icing on the cake is the congressional Base Realignment and Closure process that ordered the U.S. Army Armor School be moved from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning. It will generate about 10,000 jobs on the local post and 5,000 off post.

Altogether, the city's population should swell by at least 30,000 by the time the armor school is in place. The deadline for that to happen is Sept. 15, 2011. Fort Knox soldiers and civilians should begin coming in waves starting in fall 2009.

"The bulk of the movement of the U.S. Armor School and Department of Army civilians and contractor growth will take place between July 2010 and September 2011," said Green, calling the BRAC buildup a "once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity" for the community.

Green is president of Columbus-based bankholding firm Synovus Financial Corp. and is a former Federal Reserve Advisory Board member.

Mike Gaymon, president and CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, noted the city has 3 1/2 years to prepare for the military expansion. Upgrades to roads, schools and other infrastructure are critical, he said.

"Business as usual won't get it done," he said.

City to add jobs

Humphreys, honing in on 2008, said Columbus should see solid job growth. The Selig Center estimates the city will add 4,900 jobs this year, finishing with a work force of 128,500, a 4 percent growth rate, the highest rate among Georgia's metro areas.

Overall, the economist expects the city to generate an average of 4,000 new jobs per year over the next five years.

"I suspect the main challenge facing Columbus will be preparing your region to accommodate the job and population growth that is coming," Humphreys said.

The housing sector, meanwhile, is expected to be the "biggest drag" on the U.S., Georgia and Columbus economies in 2008, he said.

Permits to build new homes in the Columbus metro area dropped 8 percent in 2006 and 35 percent in 2007, the Selig Center said. They could drop another 10 percent this year.

"The good news is that housing remains super-affordable in Columbus. The market never really got bubbly," said Humphreys, pointing out local home prices grew only 39 percent from 2001-06. That's off nationwide appreciation of 55 percent and a doubling of home prices in Florida.

"Because so many of the fundamentals for the Columbus housing market are still favorable, I believe that existing home values in Columbus will hold up well," he said.

Sumichrast, ticking off the vulnerabilities of the Georgia economy, said housing and the ongoing drought both could put the state at risk. He appeared to be particularly concerned about any possibility of an oil price shock that could severely weaken the resolve of businesses and consumers.

Georgia's economy is very exposed to a potential energy crunch, considering it is a major Southeastern transportation and logistics hub.

"A significant (oil) interruption would mean we would have lines at the pump again. Those lines would kill growth," Sumichrast said. "Rising fuel prices or a supply interruption would have the potential to do much more harm to Georgia's economy than to other parts of the country."

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