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A Sustainable Path to Success for Georgians Starts With Workforce Development
COMMENTARY

March 12, 2022by Lisa Babbage, Founder of Maranatha House Ministries
A Sustainable Path to Success for Georgians Starts With Workforce Development
A Town square in Rural Georgia. (Photo by Dan McCue)

Georgia has been named the top state for doing business for eight years in a row.

As a business leader, I’m proud of the state’s commitment to economic growth and development. But as a community member and leader, I am witness to the reality that many Georgians are not experiencing the benefits of our state’s booming economy.

I am the founder of Maranatha House Ministries, a temporary housing and support program for women and their families. Through this work, as well as my 18-year teaching career, I have heard innumerable stories emphasizing generational patterns of trauma induced by poverty.

Despite building a thriving tech corridor, being ranked number one in film production, and Georgia’s unemployment rates hitting an all-time low in October 2021 — the gap in skill sets is making it increasingly difficult to fulfill this demand.


Industries moving into the state offer opportunities that will put Georgians on a path to self-sustainability, but rather than employing Georgians, businesses are bringing their talent with them.

As a result, the people who have always called Georgia home are moving out of their communities due to a lack of investment, destabilizing neighborhoods and increasing the risk that businesses will leave the state.

Our leaders continue to talk about the issues — jobs, poverty, crime, safety — as if they’re too complex to solve. The solution is simple: Invest in a strong career pipeline for students and workforce development for adults.

As a longtime educator, I know that schools are central to shaping a strong local economy. To set our students up for success, schools must have an understanding of trends and changes in the market. For example, we know that the number of tech companies that need skilled workers will only increase. Schools should adapt to help Georgia’s students have a competitive advantage for the tech jobs in their own backyard.


Some school districts are already moving in this direction. Gwinnett County invested in two new STEM high schools in the last four years, which will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the career trajectory of local students and the surrounding economy. But too many other districts, even in Atlanta, still lack the investment required to offer educational opportunities our students so desperately need — particularly in districts with high rates of students of color.

For example, Booker T. Washington, a majority Black high school, does offer vocational programs but does not have the appropriate infrastructure to provide a well-rounded educational experience that includes multiple paths their students can take to empower themselves vocationally.

Properly investing in school districts that primarily serve students of color is not only necessary to fulfilling the commitment of uplifting all students, but to advancing racial equity and closing the racial wealth gap.   

Schools should also partner with businesses to produce training programs, or facilitate apprenticeships and internships. These partnerships will ensure that students are equipped with the skills that employers actually need, and that they’re moving into careers that align with their interests.

By making a few small adjustments like these we can prepare and train our emerging workforce, we can end the cycle of poverty for Georgians and maintain the state’s competitive advantage in the market.

Creating a more sustainable Georgia requires we invest in all communities, regardless of their socio-economic status so that each of us are afforded an opportunity to reach our full potential. Otherwise, we’re furthering the cycle of poverty for Georgia’s most vulnerable.


When businesses choose to invest their resources in a community, it has the potential to transform the lives of those who live there. The solutions are right in front of us and if our leaders are serious about their commitment to Georgians, they’ll start implementing them.


Dr. Lisa Babbage partners with several organizations including the Georgia Black Republican Council, The Madison Coalition, Freedom After the Trauma, I Choose Love Campaign, No Left Turn in Education, BLEXIT, and her nonprofit, Maranatha House Ministries. A former candidate for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, Babbage has a long history of pro-life and anti-trafficking activism. She is an educator and prolific author. You can find her on Twitter @LisaNoelBabbage.

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