At the June 18 Georgia Chamber of Commerce Regional Power Lunch at the Partridge Inn in Augusta, it was quickly apparent that Chamber President Chris Clark is continuing his statewide misinformation campaign for “civil justice reform” in the upcoming legislative session. It is necessary, he claimed, because our state’s business-friendly legal climate supposedly ranks 24th in the United States.
Unfortunately, what Mr. Clark fails to mention is that this ranking is far from scientific, or even unbiased, as it was calculated by the same people using it to advance their agenda – the Chamber of Commerce itself.
As it turns out, objective observers have painted a markedly different picture about the legal climate within which our state’s businesses operate. Take Forbes magazine, for example, which has ranked Georgia’s legal/regulatory environment in the top five nationally for seven consecutive years – even ranking the Peach State No. 1 in both 2009 and 2010. Or look to CNBC, as they have consistently ranked our legal climate within the top third of all U.S. states.
Nearly every day, we are greeted with the great news of another company expanding, relocating or opening their doors in our state. Take Starbucks, for instance, who just last year announced a $172 million, 180,000-square-foot plant at Augusta Corporate Park. It is no wonder, then, that one of the top business publications in the nation – Site Selection magazine– ranked Georgia as the fourth-best state for business in 2012.
While the Chamber continues to consistently downplay our state’s business-friendly legal climate to advance a politically-motivated agenda aimed at so-called “tort reform,” we call on our business leaders to tell the truth about what a great place Augusta – and all of Georgia, for that matter – is to do business.
(The writer is president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.)