Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Savannah Morning News on Savannah tourism:
Tourists can't seem to get enough of Savannah. That's one of the main impressions from the latest tourism study, which shows a 5 percent jump in the total number of annual visitors here in 2013.
And it's hardly a one-time blip. The numbers for the tourism industry, much like the statistics down on the docks at Savannah's busy port, keep going up, up, up.
There's no question that this robust tourism trend helps the local economy in major ways. But is it sustainable? ...
According to the Longwood's International TravelUSA, which did the latest study, 13 million visitors came to Savannah last year (up from 12.4 million in 2013). They spent $2.29 billion, up nearly 11 percent from $2.07 billion spent in 2013.
For those who wonder what's behind Savannah's hotel construction boom, or how all these new hotels can stay open, there's the answer. It's a version of the movie "Field of Dreams." Build them. And they will come.
The plus sides are obvious — money and jobs. The Tourism Leadership Council estimates that the industry employs more than 22,000 people directly. That's one in seven employed people, the TLC reports.
When you consider that Savannah still has a chronically high percentage of poor people (a 28 percent poverty rate, at last count), the availability of jobs is critical. A paycheck is an escape route out of poverty. For many in this industry, that first paycheck was a stepping stone to a career.
A tourism boom has positive ripple effects in other areas, too. The greater the desire to visit Savannah, the more that low-cost airlines will consider providing service here. Property values tend to go up when areas become more desirable. Blight and under-utilized properties tend to fix themselves.
On the flip side, there's only so much space in Savannah. And that creates political and business pressures, which in turn creates conflicts ... At some juncture, Savannah's political, business and community leaders must have a serious conversation about such issues. It's important to tend to the lifeblood of the economy. But so is tending to what's at the heart.
The Augusta Chronicle on traffic jams at Florida Georgia Line concert:
It's alarming when news coverage about a hot new country-pop act playing Augusta focuses not on the actual concert, but on the venue's difficulty to accommodate it.
Indeed, the story of Florida Georgia Line's appearance at Lake Olmstead Stadium on Friday was one of aggravation on the part of an estimated 10,000 fans who had to take shuttle buses to the concert because of traffic congestion and lack of parking at the stadium.
Long lines and congestion delayed many concert-goers who were forced to park on Georgia Regents University property because the 700 stadium parking passes made available by stadium management quickly sold out. Some ticket holders even missed the opening acts.
Lake Olmstead is a fine facility, and it's more than adequately equipped to handle the crowds drawn by its main user, the Augusta GreenJackets baseball team. However, the facility's poor egress and landlocked location clearly make it a poor choice to play host to a major concert.
The duo that comprises Florida Georgia Line specifically chose the ballpark because the venue fit the theme of its summer stadium-concert series. Let the Friday night traffic jam serve as a warning to organizers considering similar events in the future ...
It certainly would make sense for the stadium owners to expand facility parking by exploring the acquisition of vacant and underused parcels around the stadium, but the larger issue is Augusta's lack of a modern sports and entertainment complex capable of accommodating events with a regional draw.
Proposals for such a facility were floated more than a decade ago by a group of Augusta businessmen led by the late Frank Lawrence, who owned Bobby Jones Ford and the Augusta Lynx hockey team, and Morris Communications CEO William S. Morris III.
Their concept of a public-private facility along a major expressway in Richmond or Columbia counties failed to gain political traction, and later was shelved. Though interest in a multipurpose venue has waned, the need obviously has not. This past weekend's concert chaos reaffirms that ...
The Daily Citizen of Dalton on a coach's recovery following a crash as he and his fiancee drove to their wedding:
Immediately following the deadly April 28 car crash that took Brittany Huber's life and nearly John Redman's, the last thought on our minds was when the Dalton State College assistant men's basketball coach would return as an active member of the Roadrunners' staff.
Considering where he was in the days following the event, we just wanted him to get better.
Now, a coaching return is a realistic goal for Redman.
The coach suffered brain damage following the one-vehicle accident, which occurred on I-85 south of Atlanta as Redman and his fiancee headed to Mobile, Alabama, for their wedding. Redman was in a medically induced coma following the car crash, but he has made enormous progress in the last month. He's now talking and walking and he had his first interview last week with The Daily Citizen. Redman still has steps to make on his cognitive recovery, but he said in the interview, "Eventually, I want to be back out here with these guys."
"These guys" are the Dalton State players and head coach Tony Ingle, who begin their second season helping with the school's athletics rebirth in the fall. Dalton State — a first-year National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics member that was ineligible for postseason competition — finished 26-4.
Redman might not be far enough in his recovery to assist Dalton State in 2014-2015. Then again, he might, and he has sights set that way.
We hope that goal becomes a reality.