This week the legislature finished its ninth legislative day. It was an exciting week filled with rallies, invitations and special guests. In addition now with budget hearings completed you will begin to see bills working their way through the legislative process.
Interview with Commissioner Gary Black
This week we are including a new feature. Each newsletter will now feature an interview with a unique personality on capitol hill. This week we sat down with Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black. Commissioner Black talked about the basic functions of his department, changes that have been made in the department since his election and his ties to North Fulton. We are looking forward to hosting him at our annual gala this April where he has a special surprise for our membership.
Check out the video interview to the right.
HB 818: Economic Development
Regardless of a business's age or the product they sell, capital is a requirement for growth and expansion.
That capital can come in the form of revenue generated from the sale of goods, performance of services, or by investors. Venture capital is a vital form of financing, especially for businesses in technology sectors. Georgia is currently under capitalized for early-stage technology companies. This inhibits long-term economic growth.
Legislators have hopes that HB 718 can solve this problem. Led by Representative Allen Peake of Macon, this legislation will create a new program called "Invest Georgia". This new program's purpose is to invest in seed, early, and growth-stage companies in order to expand jobs in Georgia, create wealth within Georgia communities, and commercialize current and future research done at Georgia's universities particularly at top notch incubators like Georgia Tech.
The state will fund this program by selling up to $200 million insurance premium tax credits, with the proceeds going to the new Invest Georgia Fund (IGF). Markets show that credits against future premium taxes usually sell for about 85¢ on the dollar, which would deliver up to $170 million in cash to the IGF. The bill calls for the proceeds to be invested in Georgia based funds that invest in Georgia-based businesses. The bill calls for 30% of the funds to be invested in early-stage companies and 70% into growth-stage funds.
The legislators listed on the bill in coordination with the Technology Association of Georgia developed this investment model after looking at best practices from other states in particular InvestSC, TNinvestco, and the Texas Enterprise Fund. One area where the Georgia law departs from neighbor states is the administration of VC funds. The legislation stipulates that this new authority would hire a third party "investment advisory firm" which would be charged with evaluating and selecting the VC firms based on their management structure, investment strategy and "commitment to Georgia" e.g., history of investment in the state.
Georgia has recently seen the effect a lack of VC funding can have. Technology companies formed and incubated at Georgia Tech move just across the state line to Chattanooga because of possible investments by TNinvestco. Imagine the economic and job growth that could occur if we could keep those companies here. North Fulton, as a leader in healthcare technology, could see tremendous job growth.
Southwest Airlines Welcomed to the Capitol
This week Dave Ridley, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Southwest Airlines addressed the chamber at our Eggs and Enterprise breakfast.
After speaking to over 400 people at breakfast Dave joined members of the Chamber staff and Board of Directors down at the capitol.
Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Senator David Shafer sponsored resolutions in their respective bodies welcoming Southwest to Atlanta and inviting Dave to speak. That morning he was able to address both chambers to great fanfare and recieved a warm welcome in both chambers.
The resolution introduced in the House can be found here.
Last week the House and Senate Appropriations Committees heard testimony from Constitutional officers and other department heads about their proposed budgets for 2013. These hearing passed with few sparks.
Despite the lack of drama before the committee, behind the scenes there was one scuffle. Governor Deal wants to change the way the state conducts safety inspections of all kinds. Currently, the Department of Labor does this work. If the changes are made, the Department of Agriculture will become the central agency for safety inspections in the state.
Since his election in 2010, Commissioner Gary Black has made many changes to the operations of the Department of Agriculture. His management style has impressed many in the State Capitol.