On Friday, February 21, 2020, East Georgia State College hosted the 2020 Economic Outlook Luncheon, locally sponsored by the Swainsboro/Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce and Joint Development Authority.
The Georgia Economic Outlook series annually draws several thousand influential business and governmental leaders to luncheons around the state. Directed by the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, this popular program has become the most comprehensive and detailed look at the future economy in Georgia.
The guest speaker at the event was Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, the director of Economic Forecasting at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. Dr. Humphreys serves as director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. The Selig Center is an endowed economic forecasting and market research center. For 23 years, he has written the “State of the Economy” column for Georgia Trend magazine. He also serves as a member of Gov. Kemp’s Council of Economic Advisors and previously served on Gov. Deal’s Council of Economic Advisors.
In his speech, Dr. Humphreys spoke about the economy in Georgia and what the future looks like for the state. He said that it is predicted that employment will slow in 2020. This would be the second straight year for an employment slow down. He continued by saying that there is positive economic growth, but it is also expected to be slower. Dr. Humphreys outlined the six economy drivers: consumer spending, the federal reserve, home building, projects already in the pipeline, higher defense spending, and above average population growth.
Ken Warnock, the CEO of the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce Joint Development Authority, spoke about Emanuel County’s 2020 economic outlook.
He said there were several new and exciting events related to economic development that occurred in 2019. Warnock said seven companies completed expansions during the year accounting for 335 new jobs. Those jobs were in food processing, timber operations, machine manufacturing, healthcare, food service sectors, and retail merchandising.
“No companies completed or even implemented any type of workforce reduction in their operations for the year,” said Warnock.
Warnock said with four major expansions of existing industries coming online in the second and third quarters of 2020, Emanuel County is on track to add an additional 200 new jobs in these periods alone for the new year. The Emanuel County Development Authority is currently working on 28 projects, 16 of which are active prospects, eight are construction or construction related, six are site related, 10 are real estate related, and six are work force related.
He then went on to mention two new major businesses opening in 2019, Wincore Windows and Doors and America Knits. Warnock gave an update on the industrial parks in the county and the new retail businesses that have opened their doors.
“The outlook for 2020 is promising for Emanuel County,” said Warnock. “By the third quarter of 2020 we will be completing, approximately $7.5 million of infrastructure improvements that are now under construction at our parks. These projects will complete water and sewer systems and service at the I-16 park and the new 297 industrial park, as well as upgraded entrances to these two parks. You may have seen the new water tower at the I-16 Industrial Park completed in the third quarter of 2019 and the sewer force main being constructed along the US 1 corridor between Swainsboro and the I-16 Industrial Park. These two systems will serve the I-16 park and could potentially serve the US 1/I-16 interchange, in the near future, for additional retail development at this key intersection.”
Warnock said with the planned expansions of Wincore, and America Knits, along with the expansions in existing healthcare, CNC manufacturing, food processing and packaging, and timber processing sectors, the potential for significant growth in the job market for 2020 is promising.