Friday’s Freshest: In this week’s commentary Director of Policy and Research Chris Denson reflects on the perplexing reasons behind the recent closure of Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center and what it will mean for residents seeking care in Georgia’s most populous county.
Quotes of Note
“Inflation – that’s the price we pay for those government benefits everybody thought were free.” –Ronald Reagan
“The man who doesn’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t read.” –Mark Twain
“The only way to get a thing done is to start to do it, then keep on doing it and finally you’ll finish it.” –Langston Hughes
On Our Desks
Work to do: In his weekly column, Kyle Wingfield discusses Georgia’s lagging student achievement and education gaps revealed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As the impact of COVID-19 and related public policies are revealed, Georgia and the rest of the nation must address the consequences and atone for past mistakes.
Join us! The Foundation has partnered with America’s Future for an upcoming discussion on housing and rent affordability in Atlanta. Research fellow Tyler Webb will join Seth Daniels, a government affairs manager at the Atlanta Apartment Association, for a deep dive into what we can do to drive down rent prices. The event will take place at Park Bench Battery – 900 Battery Ave SE Ste 1060, Atlanta, GA 30339 on Wednesday, November 16 from 7-9 p.m. You can reserve a spot here. Tickets are expected to sell out.
Save the date: The setting for the Foundation’s annual Georgia Freedom Dinner has been announced. The Dinner will take place on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at the Cobb Performing Arts Center at 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway in Atlanta. Table sponsorships are available. Please contact our operations and engagement manager Susan Benson at for more information.
Deep impact: The Foundation’s most recent study provides a comprehensive review of Georgia’s development impact fees. Impact fees are included in residential development costs and used to fund infrastructure growth. In his commentary, research fellow J.Thomas Perdue summarizes the new study and how impact fees can affect housing costs. This is the first part of our work on this topic, which we will follow up with additional research and publications. Access the full study here!
We’ve got issues: The Foundation’s 2022 Guide to the Issues is here! You can read J.Thomas Perdue’s commentary on the purpose and contents of this year’s edition here. Guide to the Issues is our biennial resource that outlines our positions and policy recommendations on pertinent topics. Access this year’s Guide here!
A surplus: Columbus officials last year received a total of $78.4 million from the federal government in American Rescue Plan funds, and a little under $40 million remains unspent. But, according to Columbus-based WTVM, city leaders do not know how to spend the rest of the money and are asking members of the public for suggestions. Members of the city-run Golf Authority asked for $2 million, while City Manager Isaiah Hugley requested $500,000 to help stream City Council meetings.
Speeding things up: High-speed fiber optic internet is coming to rural Bibb, Crawford, Taylor and Marion counties following a $36 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Roberta-based Public Service Telephone Company, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting. The USDA made 49 similar loans nationwide, part of the federal Infrastructure Law.
Chipping in: Georgia has taken its first step in computer chip manufacturing. Absolics, a South Korean tech company that has worked alongside Georgia Tech, broke ground this week on a new semiconductor materials factory in Covington, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The factory, a $600 million investment expected to employ 410 workers, will make materials to package computer chips together and could eventually lead to full semiconductor production in Georgia. This is another example of the long economic partnership between Georgia and South Korea that includes SKC, which opened a polyester film plant in 1996, the Kia Motors plant in West Point, an SK electric vehicle battery plant near commerce and Hyundai’s new EV plant near Savannah. Operations in Covington are slated to begin in 2024.
Hurry up and wait: Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport announced a $66 million renovation for its main TSA checkpoint, according to 11Alive. The new project will include the replacement of scanners and X-ray equipment with the hope of expediting the security process. However, the process will lead to longer wait times in the near future. The airport recommends passengers arrive three hours early while construction is underway.
Shaky ground: The Georgia Department of Transportation is being affected by both inflation and supply chain delays, reports The Center Square. Some project bids are more than 40% higher than expected, much of it due to uncertainty about the price of oil since the liquid asphalt cement used for resurfacing is a petroleum-based product. GDOT has been deferring many resurfacing projects for the last six months. Some other maintenance projects not involving resurfacing have been delayed due to supply chain disruptions, and GDOT is being as flexible as possible to accommodate their contractors.
‘Quorum’ quagmire: Macon Water Authority Chair Sam Hart said he wants Macon District Attorney Anita Howard and Chief Judge Howard Simms to help investigate four board members who may have violated Georgia’s open meetings laws. As reported by 13WMAZ, the four board members may have held meetings outside of regular Macon Water Authority functions. The Georgia Open Meetings Act defines a ‘meeting’ as a gathering of a quorum of members, where they discuss official business. A ‘quorum’ is the minimum number of people needed at the meeting.
Big money: The Georgia gubernatorial campaigns have raised and spent some serious money, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Governor Brian Kemp has raised approximately $69 million – including more than $8 million in the last month – compared to the $21 million he raised in 2018. His opponent, Stacey Abrams, has raised almost $97 million, most of it from outside Georgia. She has raised more than $11.5 million over the last three and a half weeks. She spent $27 million In her 2018 gubernatorial bid.
Reviving real estate: The Atlanta Housing board selected a joint development venture to revive the Westside’s former Bowen Homes public housing site as part of a $607 million project, according to Atlanta Civic Circle. The developer will be Bowen District Developers, and is led by real estate firms The Benoit Group and McCormack Baron Salazar. Although the property is currently overgrown, the new project is expected to bring 1,892 new residential rental units, including 502 that are listed as affordable for households earning up to 80% of the area median income. The first phase of redevelopment is scheduled to be completed in 2025, but the project will not be completed until 2032.
Rest in peace: Former University of Georgia head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley died last Friday at age 90. Dooley coached the Bulldogs to six SEC Championships and a National Championship from 1964 to 1988, and his tenure as AD spanned from 1979 to 2004. In his later life, he served as a consultant for Kennesaw State University’s effort to start its football program. In addition to his success in the world of sports, Dooley served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, was an avid gardener and published several books. He is a member of both the Georgia and Alabama sports halls of fame, and is the namesake of UGA’s Dooley Field and Sanford Stadium.
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