Deal, who signed HB 697 at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Eggs and Enterprises breakfast, said the bill will “make a significant difference” for these students who maintain at least a 3.5 GPA.
The program will have a positive effect on job growth in the state, according to Deal, and will affect about 16,000 students of the 151,000 enrolled in the state’s 24 technical colleges.
“We know this is putting money where jobs already exist,” he said. “And they’re the kind of jobs that we know are going to be available into the future.”
Job growth, Deal said, is the “backbone of a sound and solid economy” and has been his primary focus as governor.
Deal said the unemployment rate in Georgia is now 7 percent, the lowest it’s been in five years. In the past three and a half years, 243,000 private sector jobs have been created in the state.
“The reason a job is so important is that a good job allows an individual to support him or herself, it allows them to support their family, it allows them to be generous in their community and they have less reason to ask government to do things for them,” Deal said of his philosophy on job creation.
Deal said this philosophy is part of the reason Georgia has been named the No. 1 state in the nation to do business in and the No. 1 state for women-owned businesses.
Deal went on to discuss the role of criminal justice reform in job creation, mentioning the appointment of former Forsyth County School Superintendent L.C. “Buster” Evans to the Department of Corrections’ assistant commissioner of education, effective July 1.
Deal said nearly 70 percent of the prison population doesn’t have a high school diploma, so Evans will lead education and training initiatives within the department.
“When [those incarcerated] get out, they will have a marketable skill to make them employable,” Deal said. “I believe the business community is going to respond.”