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GAINESVILLE: New plant casts shades of grey over job creation debate | Business

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GAINESVILLE: New plant casts shades of grey over job creation debate
Business


GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- The ribbon cutting was for ZF Wind Power, a manufacturing plant that makes gear boxes for wind-powered turbines.  It's the kind of alternative energy venture embraced by the political left.

The keynoter was Nathan Deal, Georgia's conservative Republican Governor -- embracing the plant's 250 new jobs.

"Thank you for choosing the state of Georgia," Deal told a crowd that included executives of the Germany-based company.

A government program is largely responsible for the location of ZF Wind Power's plant to an industrial park outside Gainesville. The state funds Quick Start, which is a program started in the 1960s that trains Georgians to work in new industries.

"Quick Start was definitely one of the reasons we chose Georgia to industrialize here," said Elizabeth Umberson, president of the company.

It made this a very nuanced moment politically. Governor Deal has been among Republicans nationwide vocally calling for government to get out of the way of private-sector job creation.  Yet the state's help creating these 250 jobs was undeniable.

"I think there is a delicate balance as to what the government can do and should do," Gov. Deal told reporters.   "I think when government can do something like Quick Start -- and that is to be able to train the employees of your state for jobs that they will be able to earn a living, pay taxes to the state and support their families -- that is an important role for the state to do."

The ZF Wind Power plant represents an upbeat moment in a state whose unemployment rate has stubbornly exceeded the national average -- in a story where political ideology over job creation is taking a backseat to results.

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