RECAP: Kemp’s Extreme Agenda Poses Major Risk to Georgia Economy

August 17, 2022

Georgia Losing Out on $50 Million as a Result of Gov. Kemp’s Extreme Gun Agenda

After Atlanta’s Music Midtown was canceled because of Gov. Brian Kemp’s dangerous gun agenda, causing a loss of $50 million the major music festival brings, concerns are growing over other economic opportunities and jobs that the governor’s extreme laws could drive out of the Peach State.

When asked if he had regrets that Music Midtown left Georgia, Kemp declined to answer and shared no indication he regretted the cancellation. Instead Kemp deflected to Music Midtown organizers, saying “you would have to talk to them” — not showing even a hint of care or worry about losing out on the tens of thousands of visitors and $50 million that the music festival brings to small businesses and the state economy.

The indifferent comment came after the governor was asked about the prospect of Music Midtown and other companies taking their business out of state, to which Kemp replied, “I’m not too worried about people leaving Georgia.”

During his term, Kemp has routinely disregarded how Georgians are bearing the economic brunt of his extreme agenda, shown a lack of remorse for his actions that hurt Georgians’ pocketbooks, and personally called on Georgians to boycott companies when it suited his political agenda.

After Kemp signed his radical ban on abortion into law in 2019, he said it was ‘fine’ for businesses to leave Georgia and belittled industry leaders instead of taking action to protect jobs.

In 2018, Kemp called on lawmakers to impose financial penalties on Georgia-based Delta Airlines because it ended its relationship with the NRA. Kemp also encouraged Georgians to boycott companies – “from Wal-Mart to Citibank” – that spoke out against the gun industry after the Parkland school shooting in Florida.

Under Kemp, Georgia sank in the rankings for top states to do business. This comes as Kemp is running for re-election and pushing unpopular, extreme, and dangerous policies that:

Here’s what Georgians are seeing:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editorial Board: A loss we hope doesn’t become a trend

  • The cancellation of Music Midtown holds a message for Georgia. And this state would be smart to hear and heed this siren song.
  • The popular, two-day music event was canceled in part due to Georgia’s laws governing – or, more-accurately, permitting — the carrying of guns in public parks, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday.
  • Two sources familiar with the situation told this newspaper that the decision was linked to a recent appeals court ruling concerning the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s ability to restrict guns from its property, which is located on public land. There were also broader concerns about firearms at the music festival, these sources said.
  • Tally up in whatever detail you like what would likely have been spent by attendees at Music Midtown and what they would have dropped into local coffers before, during and after the performances. Call it the economic impact.
  • The amount is likely significant, even without applying some sort of multiplier effect common to these types of projections.
  • If nothing else, there are several other big music festivals here that operate in a similar way, entertaining crowds by operating temporary private events on public land. If they decided to pull out of Atlanta as well, the loss would be significant in terms of both foregone dollars and tarnish to our reputation as the cultural capital of the South.
  • Also likely to be on the minds of these influential decision-makers is the new state law allowing legally eligible Georgians to carry guns without going through the formality of a background check and the other paperwork required to secure a weapons carry license.
  • For a state that so wants to be seen as an A-list player in economic and cultural affairs nationally and globally, Georgia and its lawmakers need to honestly assess the potential cost of lost opportunities.
  • And they need to weigh whether the loosening of gun laws in recent years is worth that fee.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s The Jolt: Democratic governors make a play for Georgia’s business

  • First came the extraordinary letter from New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy urging seven name-brand companies to uproot from Georgia and head north to protect employees from anti-abortion policies.
  • Then came North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s plea for Music Midtown to cross state lines after the two-day festival was canceled because of Georgia’s permissive gun laws. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak quickly followed up with his own invitation to move the event out west.
  • In all, four Democratic governors have taken aggressive steps to siphon business and investment away from Georgia. Each have blamed Gov. Brian Kemp’s policies on guns, abortion and cultural issues in ways that boost Stacey Abrams’ rematch.
  • The governors represent an ideological cross-section of deep-blue bastions, a swing-state battleground and a GOP-leaning Deep South neighbor. All echo Stacey Abrams’ argument that Music Midtown’s demise could be a taste of what’s to come.

FOX 5 Atlanta: Music Midtown: North Carolina governor advocates for canceled festival to move to his state

  • The governor of North Carolina is urging Atlanta’s Music Midtown to move the canceled festival to his state.
  • “We’re ready to welcome you to one of our amazing outdoor spaces to help you host a fun and safe festival,” he wrote on Twitter.
  • Speaking to FOX 5 Monday, Atlanta City Council member Michael Julien Bond confirmed the decision to cancel stems from new state gun legislation which allows firearms in public spaces, including Piedmont Park. 
  • Officials expect the cancellation to cost the city of Atlanta millions of dollars from tourists traveling to the Midtown, Downtown, and Buckhead areas for the festival.
  • “Brian Kemp’s dangerous and extreme gun agenda endangers the lives of Georgians, and the cancellation of Music Midtown is proof that his reckless policies endanger Georgia’s economy as well,” Abrams said in a statement. “It’s shameful, but not surprising, that the governor cares more about protecting dangerous people carrying guns in public than saving jobs and business in Georgia.

11Alive in Atlanta:

  • 11Alive Anchor: “Festival fallout continues today after Music Midtown was called off. It’s one of Atlanta’s largest events in Piedmont Park but performers won’t be hitting the stage this year.”
  • “It comes after a challenge over whether event organizers can ban weapons from the festival.”
  • “According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle Music Midtown being cancelled could mean a $50 million loss for Atlanta’s economy.” 

CBS46 in Atlanta: 

  • CBS46 Anchor: “Tonight, one of Atlanta’s largest music festivals is off, and Georgia’s gun laws just might be the reason.” 
  • CBS46 Anchor #2: “Music Midtown cancelled today dealing a major blow not only to music fans, but to the city’s economy.”
  • “The festival held each year in Piedmont Park traditionally brings in around $50 billion dollars to Atlanta. Crowds can swell up to 50,000 people over the two day event.” 
  • CBS46 Reporter: “This is something that’s been very popular here at Piedmont Park for many years, but a lot of people believe that a provision in Georgia’s gun law may be the factor for this event being cancelled.”
  • “In 2019, the Georgia Supreme Court set new rules on what types of businesses could ban guns on public property.”
  • “And at the state level, Governor Brian Kemp had no comment on a matter which his office said was litigated between two private parties.”

WSB in Atlanta:

  • WSB Anchor: “This morning we’re hearing Georgia’s gun debate is part of the reason why the event is not going to be happening. Channel 2’s Kristen Holloway joins us live from Piedmont Park, and Kristen this festival normally brings huge crowds which normally boost the economy for local businesses, right? It’s a big deal.” 
  • WSB Reporter: “Frank, it is a big deal. A lot of businesses near Piedmont Park say they’re devastated that this was cancelled because this festival weekend brings in huge crowds.”
  • “Luz Martinez with Zocalo restaurant in midtown isn’t happy after organizers canceled Music Midtown at Piedmont Park on Monday. The festival is one of the biggest music festivals in the southeast. Martinez said her restaurant will miss out on big crowds.” 
  • Luz Martinez: “There’s definitely going to be a loss, for sure.” 

13WMAZ in Macon:

  • 13WMAZ Anchor: “Organizers for Atlanta’s Music Midtown festival made the announcement yesterday saying due to circumstances beyond our control, they would no longer be hosting the event.”
  • “Organizers did not give a specific reason for the cancellation, but the entertainment industry publication Billboard cited industry sources blaming Georgia’s gun law.”
  • “The festival has banned firearms from the grounds since it started back in 1994, but under the new state law they can no longer do that.”
  • “The Atlanta Business Chronicle says in the past the Music Midtown Festival generated around $50 million dollars to the city’s economy.” 

WRDW in Augusta:

  • WRDW Anchor: “That event has been cancelled. Event organizers say the cancellation is due to circumstances beyond their control.” 
  • “Many people think that it’s due to a provision in Georgia’s gun laws which would not allow organizers to ban firearms in Piedmont Park.” 
  • “The Atlanta Business Chronicle says the weekend event has generated about $50 million dollars in past years.”
  • “The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau calls the cancellation a great loss for the community.” 

FOX30 in Jacksonville:

  • FOX30 Anchor: “Officials with the Georgia-based Music Midtown festival say the event is cancelled this year, and they’re blaming the state’s gun laws.”
  • “The festival has been a gun-free event for years, but in 2019 Georgia expanded the places where people could legally carry weapons including city property where that festival happens.”
  • “The event is now sending out refunds to everyone that bought a ticket to it, and it draws quite the crowd each year.” 


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