News Briefs 

State's unemployment rate drops in April

The unemployment rate in Georgia dropped to 9.9 percent last month, a decline of 0.1 from March and the third consecutive month in which the rate showed steady decline according to data released by the state’s Department of Labor last week.

While unemployment was down across the state, Savannah lost 200 jobs from April 2010 to April 2011. During that same period the city also had 302 fewer initial unemployment claims.

It is the first time Georgia’s unemployment rate has been in single digits since June of 2009 when it was 9.8 percent.
Although declines in unemployment have been relatively slow thus far, the announcement caps off a strong month of job creation news from the governor’s office.

Last week, Deal announced a new economic partnership with the United Kingdom during his recent trip to Europe. A UK Trade and Investment team will locate in Atlanta “to promote trade and foreign direct investment opportunities between the United Kingdom and the state,” according to a press release from his office.

A few days earlier, Deal announced support for a $140 million highway project in Savannah, the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway Connector, a 3.1 mile, four–lane route that will provide a direct route between the port and I–95.

“This roadway will help in the prompt delivery of valuable cargo to and from every corner of Georgia and, in turn, preserve and create jobs in our logistics and transportation industries,” said the governor in his statement.

Two weeks ago, the Governor’s office announced the grand opening of a Georgia Biomass wood pellet production plant in Waycross (creating 85 jobs), and a new headquarters for the luxury car manufacturer Porsche in a complex to be built adjacent to Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson Airport (100 jobs).

During the first week of the month, Deal announced plans for a new production facility in Ben Hill County (65 jobs), and held a ribbon cutting in Milledgeville for a new aerospace manufacturing plant (250 jobs).

LNG update

During last week’s workshop, the City’s emergency management consultant Benjamin Johnson provided an update about ongoing search by the city to find leverage in the debate with Southern LNG over plans to truck liquefied natural gas through the city.

Johnson discussed that the traffic analysis being considered by federal regulators included no local traffic data.

According to Johnson, this caused a discrepancy that favored the DeRenne route in their planning despite the fact that their proposed route goes through three of the top ten most accident–prone intersections in the city — DeRenne at Montgomery (61 wrecks in 2010), DeRenne at Abercorn (87 wrecks), and Victory at Truman (71 wrecks).

An intriguing finding stems from the design of storage facilities on Elba island rather than the trucks themselves. In 2006, FERC denied a permit to a company called Keyspan in Rhode Island because their storage tanks failed to meet safety regulations, according to Johnson. Those tanks were the same design as the older of the tanks on Elba.

SLNG had not responded to requests for information from Johnson, and still have not provided the Environmental Impact Statement requested by the City.

“SLNG has met the minimum required by law,” said Johnson. “But nothing more.”

Bicycling victory

The 2011 Legislative Session made things a little better for bikers, following the Governor’s signature to HB101 earlier this month. The law updates several sections of code, including legalizing clip–less pedals and recumbent–style bicycles (both of which were technically against the law until the change).

HB101 also standardized minimum design guidelines for bike lanes, grants bikers right of way in bike lanes, and sets a three–foot passing rule for cars overtaking cyclists (a major victory for bike safety advocates and cycling commuters).


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Patrick Rodgers

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