The Union Recorder

January 15, 2013

Grant mulls new position, reflects on legislature

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Former District 25 Republican Sen. Johnny Grant has a strange feeling this week. As the Georgia legislative session opens, there is no Atlanta trip.

The former legislator, who spent eight years in the Senate, has a new calling with Georgia College. Last week, GC President Dr. Steve Dorman named Grant as the university's community engagement and economic development director.

Grant did entertain another position, but seems excited to work on the college's plan to foster Baldwin County and City of Milledgeville's economic development.

Recently, University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Hank Huckaby challenged state universities to embrace their role as major economic drivers. From incubating businesses to training a workforce, Grant said the chancellor encouraged the USG to use their brain capital to spin out business and get involved in traditional economic development.

Talk of local possibilities for a business incubator are active.

Grant said an incubator could encourage entrepreneurs, helping them overcome barriers that come with starting a business.

Many tab the former Shaw Industries building for this purpose. There are vacant, smaller spaces near campus that could host the first local business incubator model, according to Grant.

The Milledgeville native said Georgia College could be a primary partner though the incubator doesn't apply to only students and faculty.

The legislature opened its 40-day session Monday. Bills concerning gun control, ethics and the budget loom.

Senators quickly passed a resolution capping gifts from any registered lobbyist at $100 per item, event or meal. The new rule limits spending, but it doesn't limit the number of times lobbyists can spend $100. Now only senators and their staffers can file ethics complaints as well.

Gov. Nathan Deal requested three percent budget cuts across state agencies. Along with a $400 million Medicaid program shortfall, the lawmakers have muddy trails ahead.

Grant said it's easier dealing with cuts when you expect more revenue. The state made cuts in five of his eight years. 

Though revenue is up for the first six months of the current fiscal year, they fall below expectations for which the 2013 budget is based. Slicing services is a real possibility.

He assumes the Georgia College director position starting Jan. 22.

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