Georgia’s economic heartbeat is faint

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

Georgia is the number one state for the TV/ Movie industry, with the industry contributing an incredible $9.5 BILLION to our state economy (i.e. buying through local businesses like restaurants, bars, gas stations, etc.), with $3 billion in direct production spending alone (Georgia Trend Magazine, March 2018). Most Georgia residents are aware of the large number of series and films made here. There are music videos, commercials, and documentaries filmed here as well.
Coweta and Fayette Counties are two centers of production in Georgia, and that’s why I‘m so worried.
With 75 “stages” around the state (per State government), the film industry drives both Georgia’s economy and our local Coweta/Fayette economy, which is among the best in the state. Unfortunately, relatively affluent Fayette and Coweta Counties are also extremely conservative versus the rest of metro Atlanta, as shown by the 2016 and 2018 election results where both Trump and Kemp won big in Fayette/Coweta as opposed to Gwinnett, Cobb, or Henry for example.
Therefore, there was a lot of local support in these counties for ending abortion via the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which prohibits abortion after a heartbeat, 6 weeks, not enough time for a woman to abort a fetus, essentially stopping virtually all abortions in Georgia.
At the time, the feeling among Georgia’s GOP politicos was that the film industry would protest but ultimately do little, but they were very wrong.
The film industry is not like a car assembly plant. Studios don’t own production facilities; they rent them from local owners. Production can be moved relatively easily, even if it causes some delays. That’s how this industry got here in the first place via tax incentives, up to 30 percent, which can be easily replicated elsewhere if the politics is right.
And, with $9.5 billion to gain, it will be.
Thus far, Disney, AMC, Amazon, Netflix, WarnerMedia, NBC/Universal, Viacom, CBS, Showtime, Sony, MGM, and STX Entertainment have already announced that they are considering leaving the state. More studios are seriously considering the same move. For example, Amazon’s new series, “The Power”, is ditching Savannah for an as yet undisclosed out-of-state site and more will certainly follow.
Meanwhile, their local employees are having a fit. Many have moved here from out of state and now will be unable to pay their bills unless they relocate again.
Consequently, our pro-business Governor is apparently running for the hills after his obvious mistake in signing the Bill, but simply canceling a trip to LA will not make the issue go away, Governor Kemp. That baby may be ugly, but it’s all yours now.
You should have thought long and hard before getting in bed with the rural anti-abortion crowd. Why do you think Governor Deal, a far wiser and more experienced politician, vetoed the Bill the last time? Not a good start for your first year, Mr. Kemp. This situation plays to your weaknesses.
Stacey Abrams recognizes the negative consequences that the Bill will have when it takes effect in January 2020. So, she took off to meet with Hollywood big wigs on early in June to ask them not to leave us. Is she just revving up for her next run against you, Mr. Kemp? Too bad, but it sure looks like she is getting ready. And she will win, unless you once again purge the voting rolls of her supporters.
The bottom line for Georgia’s GOP strategists? From now on, keep politics out of women’s healthcare, or at least be prepared to suffer the consequences.