Eric Mandel of the Atlanta Business Chronicle recently described a disturbingly dramatic descent in Georgia’s position in CNBC’s annual “Top States for Business” rankings. Georgia plummeted five points, dropping from No. 2 to No. 7 in 2018. Additionally alarming, Mandel describes, “Georgia was among the states that saw the biggest fall.”

Striking important chords, InsiderAdvantage’s Phil Kent explained in a subsequent column that the reason for the precipitous plunge is crime. Significantly, the lawbreaking in question is the exactly the type of wrongdoing that is most attributable to gangs. Mandel confirms this while explaining Georgia’s significant downgrade, “[A]n uptick in…violent crime bruise[s] the Peach State’s competitive edge.”  Underscoring public safety concerns, Mandel further reports that Georgia also received a “D grade for ‘quality of life” in the CNBC analysis.

A legion of sources demonstrate the connection between Georgia’s business ranking tumble and gang criminality. For instance, federal assessments place gangs as responsible for 48% of violent crime in most jurisdictions and as much as 90% in others. In 2018, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association estimated that Georgia houses over 70,000 gang members and associates within its borders.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s report serves as yet another harbinger. Georgia’s business leaders, like those in politics, education, and public safety, should pay heed.  This gang-related business ranking tailspin cannot be ignored. Neither should massive premises liability verdicts due to gang activity on commercial properties.

Positive economic development—along with improved public safety and educational advancement—requires authorities at all levels to initiate aggressive anti-gang efforts centered on best practices, quam celerrime. Georgia cannot move forward as it hopes to if it remains beleaguered by gangs and gang crime.

Accordingly, Georgia’s economic elite will assuredly pressure Georgia’s federal, state, and local officials (and aspirants to those posts) to forcefully contend with Georgia’s gang crisis. Starting points at home should include expanding the authority of Georgia’s attorney general to prosecute gangs and establishing state funded gang prosecutor positions for Georgia district attorneys. Federally, Georgia leaders should spearhead passage of a national gang prosecution law.

The involvement of Georgia’s corporate luminaries would definitely usher in powerful new allies in Georgia’s struggle against criminal street gangs. Those dedicated to improving legal Peach State commerce should not ignore what the CNBC rankings dive portends in terms of a wide-ranging call to action.

Righting a host of Georgia trajectories depends on it.

Vic Reynolds is the District Attorney for the Cobb Judicial Circuit in Metro-Atlanta, Georgia. Mike Carlson serves as the Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney for District Attorney Reynolds’ Gang Prosecution Unit. Both have been honored by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association for their efforts against criminal street gangs. 

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