Site Selection Magazine’s embrace of Georgia as the nation’s No. 1 place to do business is a key part of [Governor Nathan] Deal’s stump speech, an automatic applause line at GOP gatherings and bill-signing ceremonies. Even his TV ads invoke the governor’s vow to better Georgia’s business environment — and cite the endorsement as proof he fulfilled that promise.
Georgia’s Department of Economic Development has spent more than $60,000 in the past three years paying for subscriptions and marketing with the magazine. The Georgia Corporation for Economic Development, a nonprofit tied to the state, also gave a $74,000 grant to the Industrial Asset Management Council, which is linked to the magazine’s parent company.
ZOMG! Cue the outrage machine!
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter’s spokesman Bryan Thomas was first out of the box with this quote, along with a highlighted version of the AJC story so recipients would be sure to grok its importance:
It’s sad that the governor’s record on education and the middle class is so bad that he has to validate his reelection bid based on a rating from a magazine no one reads. It’s outrageous that he used taxpayer dollars to get that rating. Maybe the 215 subscribers of Site Selection Magazine will think the governor is doing a good job, but families who are feeling real pay cuts and sending their kids to failing schools know better.
Within minutes, the spox for the David Pennington for Governor campaign, Megan Matteucci, released this statement. It’s too bad, however, that the press release neglected to mention the cause of the Tea Party candidate’s concern.
Every taxpayer in Georgia should demand Nathan Deal return the $60,000 in state money that he spent for personal political gain. Once again, Nathan has lied to the citizens to hide the true desperate economic situation that he has put our state in. It is loathsome that he would use taxpayers’ money to benefit no one other than himself.
Falling right in line, the “non-partisan” website Better Georgia came out with its denunciation as well.
The whole thing appears to me to be a lot of smoke and not much fire.
First, let’s take the argument that no one has ever heard of Site Selection Magazine. Actually, unless you are one of the small number of people who make decisions on business relocation and expansion, there’s no need for you to have heard of it. But, if you are a decision maker in 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies, you probably have, according to Wikipedia. If you are trying to get the attention of the 40,000 or so people who make decisions on relocating and expanding their businesses to Georgia, Site Selection, rather than a broader circulation publication would be where to invest your money.
Now, let’s take a look at the $60 grand the state spent on subscriptions and marketing, or roughly $20,000 per year. We are a state that spent $75 million in FY 2012 and even more in later years on tax incentives for movie makers to come to Georgia. There is a huge list of incentives the Georgia Department of Economic Development provides to those who would bring jobs to the Peach State. All of them cost money.
There is certainly room for discussion over whether it’s smart to offer these sweeteners so businesses will relocate or expand here, but the point is, spending a tiny fraction of the money used to bring companies here on the one publication designed to inform its readers on good places to relocate or expand is no reason to get the vapors.
We’re in the heart of campaign season, and the long knives are being drawn. But it’s not like Governor Deal has profited from royalties on a vanity book he published. Those hoping to place a new occupant in the governor’s mansion come January will need to find a stronger argument than this.