As members of both the Hall and Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, we are proud to support and work with our local business leaders to foster a thriving economic network in and around the Gainesville area. Simply put, we know that the work of our local chambers is of paramount importance, and that businesses continue to flock to our area because of its invaluable resources.
That is why we were deeply disappointed on Thursday morning when the Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark spoke at the Chattahoochee County Club in Gainesville as part of the chamber’s Regional Power Lunch series. While here, instead of highlighting the achievements of our local economy or advocating for policies that would truly improve the health of our local business community; he instead continued his summerlong statewide misinformation campaign for “civil justice reform” in the upcoming legislative session.
Clark claimed, as he did in each of the previous stops along the Power Lunch tour, that Georgia’s legal climate is chasing businesses to surrounding states, causing our economy to lag behind that of our neighbors. The cure to our supposed ills, he insisted, is more “tort reform.”
However, objective observers tell a far different story than the tale concocted by the Georgia Chamber. For instance, Forbes has ranked Georgia’s legal and regulatory environment in the top five for seven consecutive years. In fact, the Peach State ranked No. 1 in both 2009 and 2010. CNBC also paints a strikingly different picture from the Chamber, consistently ranking our legal climate in the top third of all U.S. states.
The truth is that the chamber’s claim could not be further off mark. In a recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business, small business owners ranked their main business-related concerns from 1 (most important) to 75 (least important). When the numbers were tallied, “Costs and Frequency of Lawsuits/Threatened Lawsuits” was ranked 71st, behind such worries as hazardous waste disposal, energy efficiency and the use of social media. In fact, nearly 40 percent of entrepreneurs admitted that legal climate was not a concern at all to their small businesses.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recently announced that our state is seventh in the nation in job creation over the past three years, and we should proudly recognize that businesses continue to relocate, expand and open their doors in Georgia due to – and not in spite of – our current pro-growth economic environment.
Through the Georgia Chamber continues to spread inaccuracies about our state’s business-friendly legal climate in order to advance a politically motivated agenda aimed at so-called “tort reform,” we encourage our fellow members of Gainesville’s economic community to demand that our state’s business leaders tell the truth about what a great place Georgia is to do business in.
Jonathan A. Pope and Tom Pope III
attorneys, Hasty Pope, Gainesville