Pedro Cherry (left), Georgia Power vice president of community and economic development, observes shipping traffic in Savannah, Ga., with Stacy Watson, general manager of economic and industrial development for the Georgia Ports Authority.

Business loves the South. And no wonder – the fundamentals are compelling, with a skilled workforce, abundant natural resources and an extensive transportation network. Southern Company has supported economic development in the region since the early 20th century, working with public officials to attract industry to a then-largely undeveloped part of the country. That tradition continues today through economic development organizations in all four of our traditional operating companies – because our future is inevitably tied to the economic fortunes of our customers, the industrial sector in particular.

Case in point: 2011. At a time when commercial and residential growth remained flat, it was manufacturing that led a burgeoning recovery – thanks in part to a surge in exports dispatched through seaports such as Savannah, Mobile and Gulfport. Today, we’re working to help seaports expand capacity even further.

Beyond that, we’re engaged in attracting some 250 employers that could bring in as many as 40,000 new jobs. Meanwhile, we’re managing to create a few jobs ourselves as we build our 21st century energy portfolio, a series of projects that, according to the University of West Georgia, is expected to affect some 250,000 jobs across the country.