Cobb Chamber of Commerce

Advocacy

State Legislative Agenda

The Cobb Chamber’s 2019 State Legislative Agenda represents our commitment to advance a vibrant and thriving economy by enhancing the business climate and quality of life for Cobb County, the region and state.

Our agenda addresses the key concerns from our 2,500-member organizations representing more than 16,000 business leaders, as well as the feedback we received from more than 1,029 business and community leaders during the Chamber’s strategic planning process for 2018-2022.

The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, working with its strategic partners, offered their specific expertise and perspectives, to thoroughly evaluate these federal issues and their potential impact on businesses and the community. As a result, our state agenda includes key information about the following areas that impact our Cobb businesses and citizens:

  1. Economic Development
  2. Dobbins Air Reserve Base
  3. Transportation, Mobility & Infrastructure Investment
  4. Workforce Development, K-12 & Higher Education
  5. Health Care
  6. Water Resources


The Cobb Chamber strongly believes the positions taken here will provide us with the tools needed to continue advancing a thriving economy to attract, recruit and retain quality jobs to Cobb and our state.

Your support on these issues is critical to our success. Thank you for your continued service to our state.


Economic Development

Economic Development and the recruitment/retention of quality jobs is a major focus of the Cobb Chamber that has led to more than 28,000 new jobs and more than $2.6 billion in private new investment since starting Select Cobb six years ago (previously called Cobb’s Competitive EDGE). This includes recruiting major new companies like Aaron’s, Atlanta United FC, Empire Distributors, Vonage, the Atlanta Braves, Infosys, ThyssenKrupp, Synovus, Novelis Global R&D Center, Comcast’s Innovation Center, and Alorica. It also includes the expansion of The Home Depot, Arylessence, Empire Distributors, Carestream Dental, and Floor & Decor to name a few.

In order to attract, recruit and retain jobs, we also focus on workforce development, existing industry expansion, entrepreneurial support and cultivating a business friendly environment for businesses and their employees.

We encourage state-level efforts to ensure our county; region and state are in the most competitive position possible for future growth through sound, inclusive, pro-business, job-creating legislation.

The Cobb Chamber:

  • Supports public policy which promotes building and expanding Georgia’s workforce, to meet the growing demands of companies already located or seeking to relocate to our State and efforts by the state to address obstacles and funding to make this happen. (Note: Workforce Development is a key factor in corporate expansions and relocations. To that end, the Cobb Chamber created the Cobb Workforce Partnership, which brings K-12 and higher education partners together with key business leaders to identify and support careers in high-demand sectors.
  • Opposes policies or legislative measures that would negatively impact our business climate, are or can be perceived as discriminatory in nature and could harm our ability to create, attract, retain and expand jobs in Georgia.
  • Supports proactive efforts to increase Georgia’s competitiveness for jobs and economic investment through enhanced, targeted tax incentives from the state for new and existing business in order to keep pace with our neighboring states. Some specific examples include:
    • Expansion of the Georgia Research and Development Tax Credit by adding a simplified credit that is comparable to the federal Alternative Simplified Research Credit. Currently Georgia businesses with significant research spending do not receive the credit due to high Georgia sales. The simplified credit will allow a Georgia Research and Development Tax Credit based on an increase in research spending.
    • A sales tax exemption on equipment used in research and development. (Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina have such exemptions.)
  • Supports a uniform state school start date that would begin no sooner than the third or fourth Monday in August. Travel and Tourism is the second largest industry in our state and number one industry in Cobb County. Providing a uniform start date for our schools will allow communities like Cobb and our entire state to maximize the economic benefit of a longer summer season. An added benefit will be greater job and career training opportunities for youth and students.
  • Supports reform of Georgia’s Tier-system incentive program to eliminate the disadvantage for Tier 4 counties like Cobb.
  • Supports common-sense public policies that remove regulatory barriers to growth for our targeted industries that produce quality jobs.
  • Supports the continued management of our region’s water resources to meet the current and future needs of metro Atlanta’s growing population and businesses.
  • Supports the continued review and update of regulations and laws, as well as funding to ensure adequate sources of clean water for metro Atlanta’s future growth and quality of life.

 

Dobbins ARB Military Support

Dobbins Air Reserve Base serves as a major component of the Cobb County community, the state of Georgia, and the United States. Dobbins is home to the 94th Airlift Wing, the 22nd Air Force Headquarters, the Georgia National Guard Headquarters, Navy Operational Support Center Atlanta, units of the Army Reserve, Marine Reserve, Civil Air Patrol, and other civilian tenants. Dobbins has more than 5,000 assigned military members, including all branches of the military. Dobbins is also the servicing installation for more than 400,000 eligible beneficiaries in the greater Atlanta region, including retirees from all services.

The primary missions of the 94th Airlift Wing are to provide Rapid Global Mobility through cargo and personnel airlift and tactical airdrop missions via their C-130H aircraft, and Agile Combat Support through Airmen trained in Security Forces, Civil Engineering, Force Support, Aerial Port, Communications, Logistics, and other specialties.

Dobbins is the site for:

  • Force Support Silver Flag Training (Force Support Schoolhouse)
  • Expeditionary Combat Support Training Certification Center (Civil Engineering Schoolhouse)
  • Transportation Proficiency Center (Aerial Port Schoolhouse)
  • Combat Arms Training and Maintenance Small Arms Range
  • Southeastern Regional C-130 Simulator

Dobbins’ strengths include the 10,000-foot runway that can support all military aircraft in inventory.

With the runway and immediate access to major medical facilities, Dobbins is uniquely positioned in the Southeastern United States to provide a platform for comprehensive disaster response operations. During hurricane relief efforts, Dobbins was the designated Installation Support Base for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a Federal Coordinating Center for the National Disaster Medial System. Dobbins served as an air logistics hub, preparing and transporting cargo to and from affected areas, and a reception location for medical patients, evacuees and responders. In total, Dobbins supported 134 flights of military and civilian aircraft and received over 200 patients for assessment and transport to Atlanta area medical facilities.

Dobbins continues to expand its community partnerships, including the recent expansion of the Georgia Tech Research Institute facilities on property adjacent to the base.

The Cobb Chamber and the metro region support Dobbins as an integral part of our national security, readiness, and responsiveness. We will work to tell the Dobbins story to our community, our legislators, and our nation, to ensure the future of Dobbins Air Reserve Base and all who work there. The Cobb Chamber:

  • Encourages the Governor and all state leaders continue to provide the necessary support for Georgia bases and communities to prepare for any potential threats to ALL of our state’s bases and place Georgia in a position to be a net gainer of missions.
  • Support the exemption of military retirement income from state income tax. This would bring Georgia Tax Policy with regard to military retirement income in line with several of our border states and make Georgia a more competitive place for military retirees to locate.
  • Continued state funding for the Military Family Support Center of Georgia.


Transportation & Infrastructure Investment

Transportation is a defining issue for Cobb and the Atlanta region.  Our recent strategic planning input process of 1,029 business leaders showed that transportation mobility and traffic congestion are Cobb’s top challenge.  We believe that our future success as a county, region and state depend on our current and future transportation challenges being met and overcome. 

The Cobb Chamber:

  • Supports the State of Georgia playing a strategic role in transit investment as well as transit expansion in order to provide a world class, regionally connected system that serves citizens and businesses. We applaud state leaders for the passage of HB 930 and the implementation efforts at the state, regional and local levels, currently underway.
  • Supports continued advancement and innovation from state leaders to ensure comprehensive transportation, transit and infrastructure state funding increases year over year. It is critical that dollars remain available for large-scale projects and matching funds for local infrastructure investment, including transit investment.
  • Supports additional flexibility in how Georgia’s local governments fund their transportation infrastructure, including transit operations and expansions.
  • Supports continued transit service coordination, integrated and seamless interconnections, and increased resources to address the needs of metro Atlanta transit riders, including appropriate representation of key stakeholders.
  • Supports the current mission of Community Improvement Districts and oppose legislative efforts that would seek to minimize or impede their impact and effectiveness, for the areas they serve.
  • Supports a premium transit solution connecting Cobb to the region’s transit system, to ensure we meet our increasing capacity challenges as our county continues to densify, grow and mature.
  • Continuing support for equipment and facility infrastructure at the State’s technical colleges along major transportation corridors such as Chattahoochee Technical College, for programs such as Commercial Truck Driving, Diesel Equipment Technology, Logistics and Supply Chain Management and others in support of the Governor’s High Demand Logistics & Transportation Sector.


Workforce Development, K-12 & Higher Education

In order to ensure a qualified workforce for our region, Georgia must continue to make the necessary investments in our educational infrastructure. A properly funded and successful education system that offers everything from pre-K to doctorates—currently enjoyed in Cobb—--is a key economic driver for our long-term future for existing business success, business expansion and new business success. Our K-12 systems are highly regarded by parents and national experts, and indeed, both Cobb County and Marietta City Schools consistently have higher graduation rates and scores on key subject areas than most of our peers across the state. At the postsecondary level, Cobb is one of the most highly educated counties in the U.S. where 45.1 percent of adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Our colleges and universities have more than 42,000 students and 8,000 graduates per year.

The Cobb Chamber:

  • Supports full funding of longstanding enrollment-driven formulas for K-12 & higher education.
  • Supports including local exemptions when calculating the State of Georgia local five mill share.
  • Supports continued funding and resources for College and Career Academies.
  • Supports continued legislative focus on funding towards promoting career readiness initiatives at the K-12 level so that students will learn–as early in their academic careers as possible—what kind of jobs and skillsets are needed to thrive in today’s economy. Promoting the apprenticeship and work based learning opportunities available to students looking to explore careers is a critical component of the Cobb Workforce Partnership.
  • Supports efforts to reduce unfunded mandates to local school districts, which includes greater flexibility to more effectively calculate student achievement.
  • Supports a graduation rate formula which aligns the minimum enrollment period with existing CCRPI Full Academic Year (FAY) calculations.
  • Supports continued funding of Advanced Placement (AP) exam fee for public school students: One funded AP exam for students in need and one funded AP STEM exam for students not eligible to receive free or reduced price lunch. Cobb County has received accolades over the past several years for its AP program. In May 2018, just over 8,500 Cobb County public school students took at least one AP exam, and 70.5% scored a 3 or higher, giving them the opportunity to earn college credit for their hard work.
  • Supports Life University’s request for state funding partnership for their Chillon Project which, through their Center for Compassion, Integrity, and Secular Ethics, will educate incarcerated students. One of only a few prison higher education programs in the Southeastern United States, this is the only program nationally to also provide scholarships to correctional officers.
  • Supports continued funding for workforce certificates, diplomas, and degrees at Chattahoochee Technical College (CTC)
  • Supports Governor’s budget for FF&E for Health Sciences building on CTC Marietta campus and for ongoing major renovations and repair, as well as, equipment updates.
  • Supports the expansion of HOPE Career Grant.
  • Support of $39.5 million in General Obligation Bonds as recommended by the Board of Regents for construction of the Academic Learning Center (ALC) on the Kennesaw Campus of KSU. The ALC is a 147,000 GSF building that will augment instructional spaces at KSU with more than two dozen classrooms, four seminar rooms, a multipurpose lecture hall, and computer and other specialized labs.


Health Care

Healthcare is a growth industry in the U.S. and Cobb with a tremendous set of resources with providers, bioscience research and development, and pharmaceutical developments. Our Select Cobb strategy has identified both bioscience and healthcare services as growth opportunities for Cobb. We must foster our existing industry in this sector as we seek to grow future opportunities.

The Cobb Chamber:

  • Supports continuation of tax exemption for not-for-profit community hospitals.
  • Supports improved reimbursement levels for all Medicaid providers, including increased payments to primary care physicians for seeing the patients most in need.
  • Supports hospitals in the current Certificate of Need process.
  • Supports reasonable market-based solutions and greater competition and more choices for small business at the state level to help keep costs of employer-provided insurance in check.
  • Supports expanding coverage options for employers and employees through a private, free-market approach to small business exchanges.
  • Supports mitigating the regulatory and financial burden resulting from the implementation of federal health care reform.
  • Supports physician payment methodologies that are adequate and sustainable for out-of-network emergency care that result in protections for patients. Ensuring that the controversial process of physician certification maintenance are not a condition of medical licensure.

 

 

Water Resources

Economic development in our region and state are directly linked to our access to water resources.

While we receive a healthy amount of rainfall, metro Atlanta residents have embraced a conservation ethic, reducing our per capita consumption by over 20% in the past decade, which is well-below the consumption levels of Charlotte, Birmingham and Tallahassee.

New technologies continue to make water conservation and efficiency effective tools to meet residential and commercial water supply needs. Combining efficient technologies with conservation measures, constructing additional reservoirs and adequate access to water supplies in multiple watersheds in our region will help meet metro Atlanta’s present and future water supply needs.

In previous years, legislation has been introduced that would have severely limited metro Atlanta’s ability to utilize permitted inter-basin transfers (IBT). IBT’s are currently approved and used in 28 Georgia counties, benefitting approximately 1 million Georgians. IBT’s constitute less than two percent of the water used in Georgia statewide.

The Cobb Chamber:

  • Supports the continued management of our region’s water resources to meet the needs of metro Atlanta’s growing population and businesses.
  • Supports the continued review and update of regulations and laws, as well as sufficient funding for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (MNGWPD) to ensure adequate sources of clean water for metro Atlanta’s future growth and quality of life.
  • Supports the funding required to support on-going litigation costs in the “tri-state water wars” and to continue to seek resolution with neighboring states.
  • Supports existing state laws and regulations that protect downstream river flows when new or expanded water withdrawals occur, and the authority given to the Department of Natural Resources in the State Water Plan to review inter-basin transfer regulations when necessary.