NPR’s Marketplace takes a look at Georgia and Atlanta, a city with “no logical reason” to be where it is

From this morning’s Marketplace segment, David Gura talking to Jeremy Hobson about housing and unemployment in Georgia, and disconnect between the candidates and voters:

Gura: I think that here in Georgia we’re seeing a lot of the big economic issues play out that are playing out in states across the country. Maybe a few of them are in finer focus.

Georgia is a state that’s experienced a lot of growth over the last few decades. It’s been very active trying to get companies to move to Georgia. I’ve been driving around Atlanta, and you see these giant warehouses. Some big companies are based here, or they’ve got big facilities here. Keeping those businesses in Atlanta — in Georgia — and attracting more businesses like those, that’s pretty important to voters here.

There are a couple of other big economic issues here. Number one is housing: we were in North Georgia yesterday, in neighborhoods that sprouted up before the housing bubble burst. And there were foreclosure signs, and “For Sale” signs on every street we drove down.

I’d say the second issue’s unemployment, Jeremy. It’s still hovering just below 10 percent here.

Listen to the full report:

Lots more from Georgia on Marketplace this afternoon.

A piece about Atlanta generally:

The piece includes this from Mayor Kasim Reed:

Well, what we know is — not just locally, but nationally — infrastructure is the most productive driver of job creation that we have. So in Atlanta, the international terminal is a major capital and infrastucture project that’s meeting an urgent need. Last year in the city of Atlanta, we had more than a 7 percent increase in international traffic. Folks believe that we will have a 30 percent increase in international traffic by 2015. So that is a sound investment that’s being funded by Hartsfield–Jackson Airport and helping the overall economy in the city of Atlanta.

There’s also an interview with Emory students (no audio link right now), a piece on people falling out of the middle class, and a piece about Athens.

Kai Rysdal’s final note includes:

There’s no logical reason for Atlanta to be where it is, y’know. There’s no natural harbor or geographic feature that dictated 175 years ago that they put a city right here.

It was, to get back to Mayor Reed’s point, infrastructure that did it. Railroads back in the early days when this city was called Terminus.

Ed Glaeser, the Harvard economist, says whatever Atlanta’s economic problems right now — it’s a bad idea to bet against a concentration of smart ambitious people.

Let’s hope Dr. Glaeser is right.