Valdosta Daily Times

January 29, 2013

Governor proposes 75 percent biz development cuts

Industrial Authority: Move won’t impact Valdosta

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — While Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to cut $185 million from Georgia’s economic development budget would seem to spell disaster for industrial growth initiatives across the southern part of the state, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority expects no to little impact to the effectiveness of their operations.

“It’s concerning,” said Executive Director Andrea Schruijer. “We don’t want to see (the budget cuts), but we know that Gov. Deal is extremely pro-business and pro-economic development. If he’s doing it, they’ve got some serious issues and a tough road ahead of them to get a balanced budget.”

The budget cuts represent an almost 75 percent reduction in spending to draw business to Georgia, but the Authority relies on county millage rates to fund its operating costs, Schruijer said.

However, should the Authority identify a project that needs discretionary funds, the organization will approach the state “to see if there’s anything they can do to help fund us,” Schruijer said.

The Authority identifies projects and the hurdles preventing their completion—such as infrastructure, land needs, water, sewer, and power services—and determines the funding needed to fill that gap, according to Schruijer.

Once that monetary need is identified, the Authority approaches the state.

“It has to be tied to a tangible item, a capital investment,” Schruijer said. “It can’t be operating costs.”

That said, Schruijer does not believe budget cuts will slow the Authority’s progress, but she admits it is still too soon to tell.

If the cuts do limit the Authority’s development budget, the organization will “still keep plugging along, and talking to prospects,” Schruijer said.