In Augusta-Richmond and Columbia Counties
Although the trade and service sectors supply the majority of jobs in Georgia, manufacturing and agriculture remain important to the state’s economy. Cotton, once Georgia’s most valuable crop, has declined in importance; in the 1990s, it was rivaled by peanuts, tobacco and corn. The manufacture of textiles and textile products has long been Georgia’s leading industry, centering mainly on Columbus, Augusta, Macon and Rome. Other major manufactures include transportation equipment, foods, paper products and chemicals. Although the state is rich in minerals, mining is not as important as manufacturing and agriculture. Many of those industries are present in Augusta-Richmond counties.
Augusta-Richmond County is a regional center of medicine, biotechnology and cyber security. Augusta University, one of the four public research universities in the University System of Georgia, employs over 7,000 people. Along with University Hospital, the Medical District of Augusta employs over 25,000 people and has an economic impact of over $1.8 billion.
The city’s three largest employers are Augusta University, Richmond County School System and the combined facilities at Fort Gordon. Despite layoffs from several companies during the U.S. economic recession and a relatively high state unemployment rate, the Augusta community has experienced a decrease in bankruptcy filings and saw a marked decrease in the unemployment rate from June 2009 to August 2016. However, these unemployment numbers are misleading as spring brings lower unemployment rates due to the Masters Golf Tournament. Unemployment fell from 10.1 percent in June 2009 to 5.8 percent in August 2016.
Columbia County offers a powerful set of world-class advantages in location, labor and access to leading assets in energy, technology, healthcare and defense. Those include nearby Fort Gordon, home of the U.S. Army Cyber Command; the Savannah River Site; Plant Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant; and a healthcare hub including Augusta University, Georgia’s newest research university. Companies like John Deere, GIW Industries and Janus Research Group continue to grow in Columbia County.
In the nation’s 35th fastest growing county, incomes are nearly 30 percent higher than the national average, and personal satisfaction is flourishing. In Columbia County, there are great schools, expanding retail and responsive leadership in a beautiful Georgia setting.
The median age in Augusta-Richmond County is about 33 years old and 36 years old in Columbia County, meaning the workforce skews younger. Median household income in Augusta-Richmond County is $37,593 and $68,516 in Columbia County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Staying on Track
The 1830s were a period of major infrastructure projects and the coming of the railroad in Augusta-Richmond and Columbia counties. In 1833, the first train ran 136 miles from Charleston to Hamburg, South Carolina. Hamburg was just across the river from Augusta.
When the Georgia Railroad was being established there were some issues in Augusta-Richmond and Columbia counties. Columbia County judges determined that having trains passing near Appling (the de factor county seat) would disturb their proceedings; they insisted that the railway line that was built in the county from Atlanta to Augusta pass well south of Appling. Originally, Augusta wouldn’t let a railroad bridge be built across the Savannah River. The city changed its mind in 1837 when told that Augusta would be bypassed. Augusta quickly agreed to a bridge. The railroad bridge was built, and the tracks leading to Athens were connected.
Some 25 years later, the state not only could claim more rail miles than any other in the Deep South but also had linked its major towns and created a new rail center in Atlanta.
By the 1920s, railroads covered almost all of Georgia, and the period would prove to be the high point of railroad service in the state, although some residents of mountain counties had never seen a train other than the log-haulers.
Passenger service declined steadily after 1920, except for a brief resurgence during World War II. Automobiles were becoming affordable for the average family, and an ever-rising number of new drivers called for improved roads. As the roads improved, rail passenger numbers declined. The low point came in the 1960s and 1970s, as the great terminal stations and union stations in Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah were demolished. Hundreds of small-town depots were likewise torn down, moved or converted to other uses.
A declining passenger business, however, was a small part of the railroads’ decline; they continued to lose the much-larger freight business to trucks, and they could not attract the capital investment to maintain thousands of miles of lightly used track.
Passenger service, which never disappeared entirely, is available on two Amtrak routes. One route, known as the Crescent, runs from New York to Washington, D.C., through north Georgia and Atlanta and on to New Orleans. The other runs from New York to the Georgia coast and on to Florida.
Today, the state’s rail system is a strong, 5,000-mile network anchored by two major lines, Norfolk Southern and CSX, and a couple dozen shortlines. Railroads are still a major part of Georgia’s freight infrastructure. The port of Savannah — the fourth-busiest container port in the country in 2015 — and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport both depend on Georgia’s interstates and railroads together to ship goods into the interior of the country. By 2014 CSX, one of the two largest rail operators in the state, had handled more than 1.9 million carloads of freight in Georgia and was operating nearly 27,000 miles of track.
Agriculture was essential to Georgia’s economy during its first two centuries, beginning with the settlement by English colonists, led by Gen. James E. Oglethorpe, in Savannah in 1733. Silk and indigo, both in demand in England, were early export commodities. By 1767, almost a ton of silk per year was exported to England. Georgia’s mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production under the plantation system and shipment through the Port of Savannah helped the city’s European immigrants achieve wealth and prosperity. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 while he was visiting a friend near Savannah revolutionized the cotton industry. With the construction of the Augusta Canal in 1847, Augusta became the second-largest inland cotton market in the world during the cotton boom.
Growing cotton almost exclusively proved to have ravaging effects on the soil. That, and the onset of a boll weevil infestation, led to the decline of cotton growth in the state. Cotton is no longer “king” in Georgia, but cotton sales still accounted for more than 18 percent of the total cash receipts for agricultural production in 2012.
Today, agriculture still accounts for much of the state’s economy. Many U.S. residents wouldn’t have fruit, meat and nuts if it wasn’t for Georgia’s agriculture. The state is known as the No. 1 pecan producer in the world and is among the leading producers of blueberries, peaches, peanuts and poultry products. Agribusiness accounts for $72 billion annually of the state’s economy, with one in seven Georgians working in agriculture, forestry or a related field, according to the Georgia Farm Bureau.
The area’s largest employer, Fort Gordon expends more than $2 billion annually in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) from an annual budget of $818 million, while providing human resources that strengthen the area’s quality of life and the effectiveness of its workforce. Expected to rise by 4,000 with the Cyber Center of Excellence, the Fort Gordon population currently includes an on-post population of approximately 26,776 military, family members and civilians, with an off-post population of more than 77,680 military and civilian family members and retirees.
Soon to be one of the nation’s top cyber technology centers, and the single point of contact for external organizations regarding cyberspace and information operations, Fort Gordon offers prime opportunity for private and governmental contractors and for technology and information companies across a wide spectrum. For more information about the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, visit http://cybercoe.army.mil.
At the national level such websites as www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com, www.jobs.com and www.indeed.com have extensive search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
The National Military Spouse Network, a networking, mentoring and professional development organization, has a wealth of career information at its website, www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org. The group aims to help military spouses build a meaningful, sustained career path and offers a library of articles that touch on topics from entrepreneurship, resume tips, self-promotion and more as well as a membership-only discussion forum. The organization also features companies that are military spouse-owned or military spouse-friendly on its Homefront Business Listings page.
Georgia Department of Workforce Services
Augusta Career Center
601 Greene St.
Augusta, GA 30901
Augusta Technical College
3200 Augusta Tech Drive
Augusta, GA 30906
South Augusta One-Stop
3120 Peach Orchard Road
Augusta, GA 30906
Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division was created in August 2006 to administer the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds and ultimately improve the quality of job training and marketability of Georgia’s workforce for the economic growth of the state. The website serves as a one-stop integrated employment and training service. Job hunters can get help in job preparation and exploring careers, labor market information and information about unemployment insurance. In 2012, the governor launched a statewide workforce initiative aimed at aiding Georgia’s veterans.
State of Georgia
Employment opportunities with the state of Georgia are posted online. Search by category, department or location then apply online. The Georgia Department of Labor and the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Workforce Division can help with creating resumes, getting job training and receiving professional development.
Human Resources Office
535 Telfair St., Suite 400
Augusta, GA 30901
Augusta-Richmond County is among the top 10 employers in the county. Jobs are posted online with benefits information, and applications are available for download with submission instructions. Call the employee hotline at 706-842-3000.
630 Ronald Reagan Drive
Evans, GA 30809
Columbia County does not accept applications online, but jobs are posted on its website, and applications are available for download with submission instructions. Call the job line at 706-312-9675.
An employment agency can offer posts ranging from high-level administration to warehouse work. Many employers use agencies as their human resources department. Agencies advertise, interview, test and manage payroll. A temp-to-perm arrangement allows the employer and prospective employee to evaluate each other before committing to permanent employment.
Municipal and regional chambers of commerce include local employment agencies in their member lists, along with contact information. See Page 16 for a list of chambers of commerce in Augusta-Richmond and Columbia counties.
Always keep your resume up-to-date and have different resumes that target specific industries and highlight your skills that fit their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists with a good variety of people and former business associates. Be sure to first ask each if you can use them as references.
Compose a comprehensive, catchy and succinct cover letter of no more than a page (this is no place to ramble). It will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Have a knowledgeable friend check it for errors; misspelled words and bad grammar hint at carelessness and indifference. Know what the company does, and highlight skills, work experience and education that apply to the position. Be aware that many employers now accept only online applications so get comfortable with computers.
Maintain a positive, professional and broad-based presence on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; almost all employers search social media sites to vet job candidates, and your absence there will raise red flags. Also be very, very aware that images and comments posted spur-of-the-moment can be searched out forever and come back to haunt you.
Be prepared for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a call from a hiring director. Compose — and rehearse — your one-minute self-promotional speech on who you are, an achievement or two and your strengths. It’s not vanity to make a good first impression. If a supervisor wants to know why she should hire you, be ready.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter as well as the quick-response email will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants — to your advantage — and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out beforehand what you want to say helps. So does rehearsal.
Be aware that due to the usually huge numbers of applicants, most companies are able to follow up only with candidates in whom they are interested. Don’t take it personally if you’re not notified that you didn’t get the job.
Fort Gordon Civilian Opportunities
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense jobs at Fort Gordon. For information about jobs posted through the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, call Fort Gordon’s job information phone number at 706-791-6382 or visit www.gordon.army.mil/cpac/jobs.htm.
For information about service jobs, including openings in lodging, recreation areas and more (non-appropriated fund positions), call Fort Gordon’s NAF hotline at 706-791-6721.
For Base Exchange jobs, visit theAAFES career page and search for Fort Gordon.
Georgia Small Business Development Center
The Georgia Small Business Development Center offers small business resources and workshops for those looking to start a business. Visit www.sba.gov. Or visit the Georgia Small Business Development Center location at The University of Georgia in Savannah at 111 E. Liberty St., Suite 200, Savannah, GA 31401.
In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered the creation of BusinessUSA, a one-stop platform for small businesses to get the services they need to make good hires and to grow. The service now offers personalized information and links on how to start a business, obtain financing, look into exporting, expand, find opportunities, learn about health care changes, be aware of taxes and credits, get help with hires, and ferret out regulations and green opportunities. BusinessUSA is especially interested in increasing ownership among veterans, women, the socially and economically disadvantaged, Native Americans and Alaska Natives.