We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1!

I was born and raised in Georgia. It’s home … and I think it’s pretty special. But recently I’ve been made aware of some Georgia superlatives that really give credibility to its prominence. I think we all know that Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is the world’s busiest and has been for some time. It is common knowledge that when you die, no matter where it happens, you have to change planes in Atlanta on your way to heaven!
 
It was recently announced that Georgia was the No. 1 location for U.S. feature films last year (according to FilmLA) topping Hollywood and New York. Georgia produced blockbuster movies like “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Ant-Man,” “Captain America” and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.” Atlanta also boasts home to Tyler Perry Studios and Pinewood Studios.
 

In addition to movies, more than 70 television series, episodes or specials are filmed in Georgia. Series like The Walking Dead, Sleepy Hollow, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Vampire Diaries, 24: Legacy, MacGyver and Atlanta (duh!). Georgia has hosted episodes of Quantico, Limited and a myriad of HGTV series like Property Virgins, Flip or Flop and Property Brothers.
 
Atlanta is home to CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS and The Weather Channel.
On the topic of arts, Atlanta is the No. 1 city for hip hop and rap music in the country, according to several sources. A list of Atlanta artists in the genre showed about 160. (OK, I didn’t recognize most of the names, but I did spot Ludacris, Lisa Lopes and Gucci Mane. I’m sure there were others I’d know …)
 
Georgia is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, UPS and The Home Depot. It is also ranked No. 1 in the U.S. for entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, and has had the largest increase in entrepreneurship of any state in the last decade.
 
Did you know that the state of Georgia is the epicenter of the payments industry? Nearly two-thirds of the world’s $2.3 trillion payment card transactions were processed through networks in Georgia! Georgia ranks first in the U.S for providing a healthy marketplace for financial services.
 
It is clear that Georgia has created an economic and regulatory climate with labor and transportation infrastructure that makes Georgia a desirable place for business. Georgia has ranked No. 1 in site selection, workforce training programs, business and labor development, and infrastructure and global access for four consecutive years.
 
Georgia is known as The Peach State. The peach is represented in the names of our roads – every other one is Peach or Peachtree (you can actually be at the corner of Peachtree and Peachtree!) – and the peach is featured on our automobile tags. But Georgia actually ranks third in peach production, behind California and South Carolina.
 
Georgia does, however, reach No. 1 status in the state in chickens! The UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development estimates Georgia’s poultry industry at $38 billion and the industry employs about 138,000 Georgians. Gainesville is the self-proclaimed chicken capital of the world. I couldn’t find data to confirm that, but I couldn’t find data to dispute it; so I’m going with it.
 
Interestingly, there is a law in Gainesville that requires eating fried chicken with your bare hands. It is illegal to eat fried chicken any other way. The law describes fried chicken as “a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality, this county, this state, the Southland, and this republic.” Oddly enough, this law is actually enforced from time to time.
 
Cordele, Georgia advertises itself as the Watermelon Capital of The World (as do six other U.S. cities) and Vidalia onions, by law, are only grown in and around Vidalia, Georgia. Georgia is perennially the No. 1 state in the nation for the production of peanuts, chickens, pecans, blueberries and spring onions. It is also at or near the top when it comes to cotton, watermelon, peaches, eggs, cucumbers, sweet corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupes, rye and cabbage.
 
Finally, and maybe most importantly, I have recently learned about Georgia’s prominence in the healthcare and global health arenas. Georgia is home to the CDC, the leading national public health institute of the U.S., a federal institution under the Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC has most recently been at the forefront of the global fight against ebola and zika.
 
Georgia is home to Emory University, one of the leading research facilities in the world, with a drug development division bringing the latest research and technology to combat disease, and Winship Cancer Institute making strides to eliminate cancer. We have the Shepherd Center, ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best rehabilitation hospitals. Nationally ranked Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta provides more beds for children than any other in the nation.
 
Did you know that Ethicon, located in Cornelia, Georgia, is the leading manufacturer of medical sutures, providing approximately 97 percent of those used in the U.S.?
 
The Task Force for Global Health, The United Methodist Committee on Relief, The Carter Center, MAP International and the Global Health Alliance are all headquartered in Georgia and on the forefront of eradicating disease and working toward worldwide health. The man credited with saving more lives than anyone else in the world through the development and implementation of his global plan to eliminate smallpox, Dr. William Foege, is not only a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but a Georgia resident – and a really nice man!
 
Whether you are talking about art, transportation, business, healthcare or chickens, Georgia is a great place to be! It’s not only No. 1 in my book; it’s No. 1 in many books!

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