Georgia’s green industry has suffered for several years under the strain of drought and related water restrictions. Continued economic woes, especially in the troubled housing industry, dampened recovery. But the future looks sunnier, according to a University of Georgia economist. “But, all in all, the green industry is expected to be minimally affected in 2010,” he said. “The sun should be rising on the economic horizon, not setting, for the years ahead.” That’s good news for the industry, Stegelin said, but it should be cautious.“As Georgia’s green-industry businesses pull themselves up by their bootstraps, exiting the recession, there are key sensitivities and success factors they should keep in mind,” Stegelin said. Many small operations shifted from specialized, higher-priced, more-profitable plants to lower-valued annual bedding and garden plants grown in pots or flats, which consumers could afford. Some switched to value-added flowering hanging baskets. Regardless of the plant mix they marketed, the prices growers got were low in ‘09, but their costs to produce things were high, resulting in lower profit margins, he said.Looking up“Georgia’s grower-wholesalers should realize a 1.5- to 2-percent growth in annual revenues for the next few years, perhaps through 2015,” Stegelin said. “A very stable forecast that is minus the volatility of the past decade.” As the U.S. dollar depreciates, he expects import competition to decline. A weak U.S. dollar makes U.S. products more affordable to global consumers. Increased consumer spending and gardening activity will stimulate demand, but weather and unusual temperatures affect production and consumption habits.In their annual trends report released in mid-November, the public relations firm Garden Media Group found Americans will focus on home in 2010. “Our relationship with money has changed,” said Susan McCoy, trend spotter and outdoor living expert. “Hard work, common sense and a return to small-town values are causing a shift in priorities from boardrooms to backyards.” For growth to happen, he said, the industry needs to: Many of the closed operations were bought by others, he said. Actual growing capacity in the state to meet consumer demand decreased by 25 percent, he said.Growing responseThe total wholesale value of floriculture and nursery crops in 2009 is expected to be 2 percent less than in 2008, he said. Large businesses with sales exceeding $100,000 will likely decline the most in Georgia. These larger operations produce 80 percent of the total farm-gate value, but account for less than 25 percent of all operations. Herbaceous perennials, foliage and cut flowers suffered the biggest declines in sales. Stegelin is confident Georgia’s green industry can weather the recession storm. Get premium nursery plants and floriculture to buyers in premium markets where prices are highest. Have favorable weather conditions that lift crop yields and quality. Identify and market to offshore customers, reducing dependence on local markets. Maintain appropriate facilities and proper growing conditions for quality products. Overcome water access issues that can impact the quality of their products. In 2008 and 2009, Georgia lost one-third of its garden and landscape businesses, reports UGA agricultural economist Forrest Stegelin in the 2010 Georgia Agricultural Forecast, a collection of economic outlooks published annually by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who is also the Finance Minister, in a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, said that the plan contains six key pillars, namely stimulating the economy; fast tracking of shovel ready capital investment projects; strengthening social protection systems; resilience building of productive sectors; building resilience in the health sector and climate change and disaster risk mitigation. CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The St. Lucia government has unveiled a EC$579.3 million Economic Recovery and Resilience Plan as the island deals with the impact of the coronavirus (COCVID-19) that affected 22 people and brought about a shutdown of the local economy. He said over EC$5.1 million dollars in tangible benefits will go towards the poor and vulnerable citizens who have been financially affected by COVID-19; as well as, hotel & tourism employees who are currently unemployed. He said that the St. Lucia Development Bank will provide a combination of loan and grant support to MSEs with a focus on food security and adoption of digital technologies. “We have laid the groundwork for success and COVID will only cause us to push harder, be more ambitious and determined. We are a caring society, a loving society and a blessed society,” Chastanet added. He said that front line workers such as police, nurses, fire officers and doctors will benefit from duty-free vehicles with special support from financial institutions. “The objective here is to assist agro processors and businesses in the digital technology community. The government of St. Lucia has committed EC$3.1 million to revitalize their businesses,” Chastanet said, noting that a 50 per cent waiver of commercial property tax for landlords who extend moratorium or rent reductions to their tenants. “The government of St. Lucia will utilize part of the fuel surcharge of 50 cents currently levied on the use of diesel fuel to finance part or full payment of electricity bills for affected persons. LUCELEC (St. Lucia Electricity Services) and the Department of Finance will work jointly, to ensure this novel initiative redounds to economic relief to over 11,000 households.” Chanstanet said that there will also be a waiver of duties on personal hygiene products, increases to the subsidy on flour purchased by bakers from EC$12 to EC$17. In addition, the government will provide five million dollars to otherwise solvent businesses with low cost financing between two and three per cent interest, to assist in meeting their working capital objectives. “Entities can receive a maximum of EC$250,000 through the St.Lucia Development Bank which is the implementing agency. The process of application will be simple and hassle free, to ensure small and medium size enterprises can take full advantage,” Chastanet added. “So far our country’s swift response has proven successful as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. Our Economic Recovery plan is part of that strategy but it can only work if we are all in, work together and truly be each other’s keeper. Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Allen Chastanet Chastanet said that the strategy to stimulating the economy includes eight priority interventions such as incentivising the commercial and banking sector to lend to micro, small and medium size (SME) entities. He said commercial banks would receive a 50 per cent waiver of corporate- income taxes related to earnings from SME lending, adding “this initiative will be in effect for three years and is geared towards improving small business solvency and the reduction of unemployment” CMC