When Don Mathews talks about our local economy, the professor in College of Coastal Georgia’s School of Business and Public Management doesn’t mince his words. If we’re going well, he’s going to say as much. And if there are ways the area can improve and use it’s assets better, he’s going to say that too.
It is one of the reasons why so many look forward to his annual speech at the Georgia Economic Outlook luncheon. So when he says he is “bullish” on our region’s economic prospects at Thursday’s luncheon, it makes us take notice.
The economy of the Golden Isles has definitely been trending up over the last year or so. The unemployment rate for the area sits at a record low of 2.7 percent. Mathews called that “truly extraordinary” in his speech Thursday.
But Mathews also said something that our local leaders and business community should also keep in mind this year.
“We’re not the only local economy doing well, which makes it difficult to attract workers,” Mathews said in his speech Thursday. “Each county is growing.”
While are unemployment rates are low, there is still a need for skilled workers in our area. Local business leaders have lamented that problem. The good news is that educators, business leaders and other stakeholders have come together to improve workforce development in our area.
That reason is why it is important to remember we are not the only local area growing. There are opportunities in neighboring regions that are also doing well. That means more competition for workers.
We need to continue to work to make our area appealing not only to potential businesses, but to the people that would work there. We also need that appeal to help retain graduating students who are entering the workforce local instead of venturing off to another part of the state or country to pursue their dreams.
Achieving all of those goals will require cooperation. Fortunately, we have seen stakeholders come together for a variety of reasons the last couple of years for everything from improving downtown Brunswick to draw more people to working to bring a TV show to Brunswick.
Our area is on the rise, and our economy is trending upward. Let’s not rest on our laurels, though. We will have to keep working to make sure it stays that way.