Positive Outlook for Columbus

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "Columbus is doing much better than the rest of the state and the nation. Job losses have been far less.  You've seen a 2% drop in 2009, compared to 5% at the state level," says Economic Expert from the University of Georgia, Jeff Humphreys.

Humphreys says there are several reasons for Columbus' positive outlook.

The jobs that Kia, NCR and XI Technologies will bring to the area will stimulate job growth.

And, BRAC is another huge job driver.

"That's going to benefit every person, every business, every profession in our region," says Steve Melton, Chairman of Ft. Benning Futures Partnership.

The realignment and closure of Ft. Knox will bring almost 30,000 new people to the valley. "If we're going to ride the coat tails of Ft. Benning, I would expect to see things begin mid-year and certainly 2011-2012 will begin to feel the full force," says Melton.

Another reason Humphreys says Columbus can breathe easier is that the housing market didn't take a big hit like the rest of the nation.

Columbus's Mayor, Jim Wetherington, knew the city had been predicting growth, but didn't expect this kind of news. "To hear it from the experts that talk about the growth in Columbus is just phenomenal."

And, the experts couldn't say enough good things about the future of our city.

"I think you will out perform, and out perform substantially," says Humphreys.

At the Columbus Bi-State Economic Outlook 2010 held Friday at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center WTVM received documents highlighting Georgia's job outlook created by the experts that spoke.  Click here to access those.  A breakdown of economic data for Columbus and the state's other metropolitan areas are available.

Also on Friday, Governor Perdue announced the start of a new incentive program to give Georgia's workforce the boost it needs.

Georgia and Microsoft are combining efforts in a unique partnership to provide free technology training.

Any Georgia resident may request to be a part of the training.

Georgia will receive 11,500 vouchers for Microsoft Windows and Office online training, 11,500 vouchers for Microsoft Business Certification Exams, and 2,900 vouchers for advanced technical professional level online training. Each training voucher is redeemable for free online training in Microsoft Windows, or one of the programs in the Microsoft Office suite.

For additional information regarding the Microsoft vouchers and locations where citizens can obtain a voucher in Georgia, please visit www.gaworkready.org within the "Jobseeker" portion of the site.

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