MACON, Ga. — Tuesday afternoon, state and federal leaders broke bread together in the middle of the Peach State.
Hundreds of politicians and businessmen gathered at the Macon Marriott City Center for the annual Georgia Chamber of Commerce congressional luncheon.
Keynote speakers included US Senator David Perdue and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. Both of their speeches focused on a similar theme: innovation.
"Georgia's been named the best state in the country to do business for for the 6th straight year, and that did not happen by accident," says Senator Perdue.
Senator Perdue praised the positive state of Georgia's economy. He says the state has an environment that allows for innovation, a tax structure that encourages investment, and strong leadership across party lines.
"Who said that people on different sides can't work together? I mean, I went to Tech, but even I've learned to say, 'Go Dawgs,'" says Senator Perdue.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao discussed "transportation innovations" happening across the country.
"Clean-burning natural gas-powered ships, zero-emission buses, and faster railways," says Chao.
She also discussed the following:
- New, quieter supersonic aircraft.
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems - or drones. Drones are being flown to conduct disaster management, search and rescue operations, precision agriculture, and law enforcement. Other uses, including carrying passengers, are being planned.
- There are more than 1.4 million registered drones in the U.S. and more than 144,000 FAA-registered drone operators – triple the number in 2017.
- Reusable rockets are propelling commercial space to new levels. Six years ago, the US was third behind Russia and China in commercial space launches. Today, the US is number one.
She also noted that that Georgia is home to the world's busiest airport, which generates billions of dollars per year, and Savannah has and an ever-growing shipping port.
Georgia state senator John Kennedy attended the luncheon and walked away feeling encouraged.
"We have a secretary of transportation that truly understands Georgia and is focused on the needs of Georgia," says Kennedy.
Business owner Al Ertel with Secure Health echoed that same sentiment. He says Georgia needs to continue bipartisan support for its businesses to stay on top.
"That's the power of business -- along with the power of all the chambers, and the Macon Chamber, coming together and working together on behalf of Georgia citizens," says Ertel.
Secretary Chao also noted that in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, Georgia received over $189 million in federal funding for infrastructure.
At the end of the luncheon, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce also presented Senator Perdue with their "Spirit of Enterprise Award," for his "pro-business" work in Washington D.C..