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Breakfast offers full plate of issues
Area business leaders, officials discuss economy, jobs, future
The Gainesville Civic Center was filled to capacity for the annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Economic development and potential barriers to job creation were the issues at hand Thursday morning at the Eggs & Issues Breakfast.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual event, which featured Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, U.S. Rep.-elect Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and the Gainesville-Hall Legislative Delegation. Collins and Cagle spoke to the crowded room of elected and business leaders at the Gainesville Civic Center before the delegation answered questions about issues the state legislature will likely consider in the upcoming session.

“We know that we stand at a crossroads,” Cagle said. “And the new economy going forward creates great opportunity for us, but also challenges.”

“It’s time we get back to a constitutional form of government in which the people understand there are three branches, not one, and business is the most important generator of jobs,” Collins said.

Much of the delegation’s discussion centered on attracting businesses to the state and Northeast Georgia, keeping existing businesses happy and making sure the state has the workforce ready to fill the jobs created by these new opportunities.

“I would submit to you that the greatest challenge we face as a state in building the new economy is going to be focused around education,” Cagle said.

Northeast Georgia and its elected leaders are likely to play a key role in shaping policy because of its location and connections.

Cagle, who seems to have regained much of his former leadership power, singled out Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, for praise. Miller, who was elected Senate majority caucus chairman, is going to play a key role in developing state policy, Cagle said.

The delegates, including Reps. Emory Dunahoo Jr., Carl Rogers, Lee Hawkins and Timothy Barr,  addressed several topics, including  Lake Lanier,  water usage, health care, regulations, illegal immigration, taxes, Savannah port deepening and transportation funding.

Barr, 32, joked about the age difference between him and the other members. He started his own company before running for the state House and represents the new District 103, which comprises parts of Hall County and northeastern Gwinnett County. Gainesville was No. 1 in recovering from the downturn in the economy and has remained in the top for growth, he said.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn from these gentlemen and what we can do to continue to keep this region on top,” Barr said.

After the breakfast, the delegation spent the day hearing from local constituencies.

The prelegislative conference included meetings with local school district boards, cities in Hall County, Hall County commissioners and judges.