Perdue says jobs are key

Sonny Perdue: Retiring governor announced the creation of 110 high-tech jobs during his last news conference.

ATLANTA --- Retiring Gov. Sonny Perdue offered a little advice to his successor Thursday in what was probably his final press conference before leaving office: focus on employment.


"Creating jobs for Georgians, as everyone knows, I think would be very, very important," he said.

However, he declined to recommend specific policies when asked to comment on how stricter immigration laws could impact foreign companies' consideration of Georgia.

"I'm going to be the best former governor I can, and I'm going to leave those future decisions to the future leaders of Georgia," he said. "I've done the best I could while I've been here, and I know they'll make the right decision on that one as well."

Perdue, Georgia's first Republican governor in 130 years, ends his second term in office Monday when fellow Republican Nathan Deal is sworn in during a 2 p.m. inaugural ceremony at the Capitol. Perdue called reporters to the Capitol on Thursday to announce ThyssenKrupp is bringing 110 high-tech jobs to Alpharetta.

A decade ago, gubernatorial press conferences were generally limited to announcements of 500-1,000 jobs, but in the wake of the brutal recession that's left Georgia's unemployment rate above the national average, every new employer is hailed as a major development.

Even Perdue joked about it.

"After this event, I want to give you my résumé because I'll be out of a job Monday," he quipped to company executives at his side.

The state constitution limits governors to two consecutive terms, but Perdue says he's ready to resume private life anyway. He did kid reporters that he would invite them to weekly press conferences at his hometown in Bonaire to keep their friendships alive.

His retirement to Bonaire likely ends his globetrotting in the quest for the state's industrial prospects.

"It was always a challenge for the staff to keep up with Gov. Perdue's 18-hour days," Economic Development Commissioner Heidi Green said.

The governor acknowledged that the press has often published stories critical of the expense of international trade missions but said they were important in developing the personal relationships with corporate executives to show them they are wanted in Georgia.

"I look at them as investments," Perdue said. "There's nothing like an international place to meet face-to-face with companies. We can point you to a list of people we believe are here because we prospected on trips."