Economic Development: A Part of the GMA Mission

December 6, 2019

Larry Hanson, GMA Executive Director

This article is part of GMA's Viewpoints catalog, a grouping of opinion pieces from the GMA magazine, speeches and other editorials.
At GMA, we take seriously the words “Advocacy,” “Service” and “Innovation.”

Our training program in partnership with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and advocacy efforts are well known and often mentioned by members when discussing the value of GMA. But central to the mission of cities is economic development—creating job opportunities and growth that enhances the well-being of the community. Economic development is also central to the mission of GMA in support of member cities.

As one example of this impact and a result of visionary leadership, GMA created the Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF) in 1999. This year, we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the foundation. Since its inception, the foundation’s Revolving Loan Fund programs have provided nearly $29M in low-interest loans for 165 projects in 60 cities. On the surface, that is impressive, but what’s even more impressive is the return on investment from private funding, the nearly 1,800 jobs created, 300 new downtown businesses opened, nearly 1.4 million square feet of downtown redevelopment and over 200,000 square feet of new construction. The total project investment from the GCF loans is nearly $168M—translating to approximately $147M in private investment. The loans have also supported the development of 300 housing units, 157 lodging units and eight cultural facilities. This year alone, the foundation has provided over $2M in loans with 14 pending loan commitments totaling $3M.

In addition to GCF and our Placemaking Collaborative, which is helping cities attract and retain vibrant residents, GMA’s financing programs have also spurred economic development. Since 1990, we’ve provided more than $1.8 billion in low-costs financing for equipment and real estate projects. These programs include Bricks and Mortar financing and Equipment financing. So, whether your city is building or renovating a city hall, community center or park or planning to purchase a public safety vehicle, our low-cost, long-term financing services will meet your needs. Private investment follows public investment and we are pleased that GMA’s programs support both.

It’s important to appreciate the role and value that cities play in the state’s economy. While Georgia’s 538 cities comprise only 9.2 percent of the state’s land area, they provide 68 percent of the state’s jobs. In fact, 91.6 percent of the gross domestic product in the state of Georgia is derived from cities. In addition, 43.1 percent of the state’s population resides in the land area that cities comprise. It’s true; cities are the economic engines of the state’s economy, and while the state’s overall population grew by a healthy 9.3 percent over the last decade, the population of cities grew by 17.4 percent.

As your partners in economic development, GMA is here to support your city in achieving growth and prosperity. Give us the opportunity to earn your business.

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