A state program designed to help struggling rural communities is putting $4.6 million into the Columbus expansion of one of Georgia’s largest and most politically connected companies, Aflac Inc.
The grant was announced recently by the OneGeorgia board, which is headed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, two former lawmakers who were in the General Assembly when the economic development program was approved in 2000.
OneGeorgia, which is budgeted to spend $47 million on loans and grants in the upcoming fiscal year, has expanded beyond its rural roots in recent years, putting money into remodeling a pricey Augusta hotel and helping pay for machinery for a Boeing Corp. facility in Macon. Honda, AirTran and FedEx are just a few of the big companies that have benefited from OneGeorgia awards.
Providing a grant to an insurance company with almost $14.6 billion in revenue last year like Aflac surprised some rural lawmakers.
No wonder Casey and Sonny weren’t upset by Sonny’s veto of the tax cut.