Foreign companies continue investing in Georgia, but can the state keep up with workforce demands?

Mercedes Benz opened its North America headquarters in Sandy Springs in 2018.

Emil Moffatt/WABE News

A new report is out showing Georgia ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. over the past decade when it comes to foreign investment from global companies.

But will this type of investment continue amid the current supply and labor crunch?

Nancy McLernon, president and CEO of Global Business Alliance, joined “All Things Considered” to discuss the issue. She says the state’s skilled workforce, airport and port infrastructure and tax policies help attract foreign investments.

McLernon says Georgia has fared particularly well when it comes to the auto industry. She points to Kia’s manufacturing plant in West Point; the North American headquarters for Mercedes-Benz in Sandy Springs and Porsche in Atlanta; and SK Innovation’s electric vehicle battery plant being built in Jackson County as examples.

“Georgia’s strength in the auto sector is on the leading edge of a national trend,” said McLernon.

The Global Business Alliance report found that from 2014-2019, Georgia saw a 32% increase in the number of residents employed by companies that are headquartered in foreign countries. It was the eighth-fastest rate of growth in the U.S. during that time.

McLernon says the current supply chain issues don’t seem to be affecting how businesses feel about manufacturing in the U.S.

“The slowdowns we’re seeing here on supply chain, ports, etc., is happening all over the world, but the U.S. is outperforming,” said McLernon.

But she says Georgia must continue to produce a workforce that can meet the demands of foreign companies.

“Time and again when I ask our CEOs ‘what is the most important factor in selecting a location in the United States’ – and this is before the current labor shortage – it’s skilled workforce,” said McLernon.