Perdue touts Georgia's -- and his -- economic vitality

By Aaron Gould Sheinin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia must re-assert itself into the…

Georgia (Oct 6, 2011) — By Aaron Gould Sheinin


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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia must re-assert itself into the global economy if it wants to grow jobs, former Gov. Sonny Perdue said Tuesday.

Perdue, who left office in January, has returned to his entrepreneurial roots since returning to private life. In March, he launched Perdue Partners, a global trading company that helps U.S. companies market and move goods in the international marketplace.

Speaking to Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business, Perdue said his eight years as governor taught him that the smallest Georgia business owner can find success on a global scale.

“It is a race out there. It is a competitive global race,” Perdue said in one of his first major speeches since leaving office.

As governor, Perdue personally promoted Georgia in 25 countries. That was quite an experience for someone who grew up on a Houston County farm, where the biggest competitor was in the neighboring county.

Later, while in college, he said he grew more “state-centric” and that it wasn’t until he was in public office that he came to “grasp the big wide world we operate in.” He was governor, elected in 2002, before he realized “the massive breadth and depth of the globe and all its people, how minuscule we are in that effort and you realize how wide and big the opportunities are out there.”

That’s why as governor, he said, he tried to focus on the state’s strengths.

“We started seeking international opportunities,” he said.

The state had established relationships in Europe, and his administration worked with those contacts, but looked farther east: Japan, Korea and, ultimately, China.

“In order to grow Georgia’s strengths,” he said. “We would sell our location, location, location.”

Those strengths, he said, included the Savannah port, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a road-and-rail network and a ready workforce.

But to continue to grow, he said, Georgia businesses must adapt to a changing global economy.

“You look at the consumption patterns and the graphs of this country and the consumerism of emerging economies, and you would be stunned,” he said. “The lines crossed about 10 years ago, and I don’t know they’re going to reconvene together. The [International Monetary Fund] predicts the emerging economies will surpass developing countries in about three years.”

Years ago, he said, the advice to new business owners was to “go big.”

“My advice now, would be go global,” Perdue said.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit