New Georgia Research Alliance report shows $6B economic impact
Thursday, May 16, 2019 02:47 PM

The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) has used $649 million in state tax dollars to generate $6 billion in federal money and private investment, the Atlanta-based nonprofit reported Thursday.

The numbers come from an 11-page report put together after freshman Gov. Brian Kemp asked GRA officials to document its impact on the state economy.

Launched in 1990 during the administration of the late Gov. Zell Miller to grow Georgia's technology industry, the GRA budget has shrunk under recent governors. However, the fiscal 2020 spending plan the General Assembly adopted this year holds its funding steady at about $5.1 million.

The GRA's strong suit has never been publicizing its mission to state decision-makers, GRA board Chairman David Ratcliffe told his board colleagues Thursday. But the alliance is working on a new strategic plan the board hopes to adopt at its next meeting in September.

"One of our strategies is to communicate what GRA is and how it operates," Ratcliffe said. "This is an effort to do that."

The report also outlines Georgia's enhanced standing in research and development funding since the GRA was formed. The Peach State is now up to No. 1 in the nation in the growth rate of university research funding and ranks 11th for total university R&D funding.

The GRA Venture Fund, established in 2009 to invest in the most promising start-up companies and seeded with $7.5 million in state funds, has generated $38 million in private investment and 920 jobs, according to the report.

Mark Sanders, a lobbyist who represents the GRA at the state Capitol, said the future for the alliance looks promising under Kemp. 

Sanders noted that Kemp chaired the Georgia Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on higher education while he was in the General Assembly. As a state senator whose district included The University of Georgia, Kemp also helped the GRA recruit an eminent scholar to UGA, Sanders said.

"Governor Kemp's the first person to show up in our office who really gets it," Sanders said. "We're in a better place."

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