At an early December manufacturer's roundtable brought together by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in Atlanta, the high cost of health care, energy taxes and green energy possibilities all weighed heavy on the minds of Georgia manufactures.
Jefferson Riley, president and CEO of THP Graphics Group, Inc. of Conyers, along with some 30 other executive officers from large, small and medium-sized manufacturing industries is a member of that roundtable.
THP Graphics is one of the state's largest design, printing and sign companies and is based in Conyers with a copy center branch in Covington.
The roundtable was formed in August by Cagle to foster dialogue between manufacturers and the lieutenant governor's office and to write and promote legislation supporting the state's existing industry. As lieutenant governor, Cagle is the President of the Georgia Senate.
"I was very pleasantly surprised that I was selected for this," said Riley who also serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and on the chamber's governmental affairs council. "It's just an honor to be a part of this and represent the East Metro area especially Rockdale and Newton counties."
Riley said he was very impressed with the knowledge and with the questions raised by Cagle and by his fellow roundtable members at their first meeting.
"He (Cagle) wants to know what the state can do to keep industry from leaving the state of Georgia as well as what he can do to bring new industry in to the state of Georgia," Riley said.
According to Riley, many of the remarks by members of the roundtable were on the need to maintain a competitive edge with other states and nations in competing for and retaining business. The high cost of deductible plans and how they impair the ability of smaller businesses to provide adequate health care plans to their employees was brought up he said.
Riley said that roundtable members expressed concern that the state's energy tax on manufacturing was putting Georgia at a competitive disadvantage to other states and nations which do not have energy taxes.
The roundtable also included a discussion on green energy and the possibilities for bio-fuel plants and solar energy farms in the state as well as financial seed money provided by the state to explore these ventures.
Also discussed at the meeting were a state-wide water management plan to be voted on by the General Assembly later this year, water usage and the drought, ozone standards and education.
Members of the roundtable included employees with Lockheed Martin, Purdue Farms, Savannah Luggage, Dixie Industrial Finishing and Langdale Industries.
The next meeting of the roundtable will be sometime this month.