Originally created 11/11/05

Perdue discusses jobs with world leaders



TEL AVIV - Gov. Sonny Perdue is fond of saying that the quest for jobs has become a competition on a global scale, and Thursday he came face to face with his competitors.

Mr. Perdue was one of several international leaders addressing a trade conference sponsored by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, spoke before him, and the trade minister of India followed him.

Mr. Perdue noted that more jobs are fleeing to the country best able to deliver the product at the best price.

"For Americans who like to be first in everything, that hurts our pride," he said.

The conference included more than 700 executives and diplomats from 25 countries. Each was hoping to top the other in how they described their advantages.

All seemed to stress their locations, the training of their work force, the sophistication of their universities and the number of existing high-tech companies - the same things Mr. Perdue emphasized.

The challenge, he said, is for each community to use creativity to figure out how to compete effectively.

"If the tide is coming in, we'd best learn how to swim or build a boat or possibly learn to breathe under water," he said.

In Georgia's case, the state has created seed-capital funds, opened "centers of innovation" for specific industries around the state and narrowed the types of industries it is targeting.

Just before Mr. Perdue's 12-minute speech, Gov. Jose Alickman of Sao Paulo could have been talking about Georgia when he listed his region's attributes: strong exports of poultry, timber products and chemicals, access to a deepwater port and a multicultural community where Jews are accepted. And he said his area is focused on the telecommunications, nanotechnology and biomedical industries.

"Sao Paulo is a very good place to do business," he said.

Mr. Perdue said the biggest difference is the relationships between countries. To nurture Georgia's relations with Israel is why he headed this mission, he said.

"Whether you're trading camels or Coca-Colas or microchips, trade is built on trust," Mr. Perdue said.

Reach Walter Jones at (404) 589-8424 or walter.jones@morris.com.