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By Donna Clapp
From the January/February 2013 issue
Gov. Nathan Deal announced recently that jobs and investment generated by the Global Commerce division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) jumped by almost a third during the state’s most recent fiscal year. The department reported that the 403 company expansions or relocations with which it assisted created 28,776 jobs, an increase of 29 percent from last fiscal year, and $5.97 billion in investment, a 32 percent increase.
“These figures are more than numbers—they represent the growth of hope and opportunity for our citizens,” said Gov. Deal. “This tangible evidence of proactive company growth is a sign that not only is our economy on the path to recovery, but also that Georgia’s top-notch business climate has helped us stand out against our competition.”
The 403 projects worked on by GDEcD’s Global Commerce Division during fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, 2012, also represented an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Of those projects, 36 percent were new locations, high- lighted by companies such as Baxter, Caterpillar and Bed, Bath & Beyond. These three projects alone created 4,100 jobs. The remaining 64 percent were expansions by existing Georgia companies. The largest of these expansions were by Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (1,000 jobs) and Home Depot (700 jobs).
Foreign direct investment, which typically creates more jobs per project, accounted for 29 percent of the year’s projects. Kia suppliers such as Mando and Daewon America continued to add jobs to the west Georgia region while others around the state were generated by companies including Kubota, Toyota Industries, Erdrich Umformtechnik, Dinex and SANY.
The Global Commerce Division also managed aggressive outreach to Georgia’s small businesses and entrepreneur-led ventures, with 66 per- cent of companies assisted by the division’s Existing Industry and Regional Recruitment team during FY12 classified as small businesses. More than 1,100 startups and small businesses were assisted through direct contact or resource awareness.
With the increased funding assistance from two federal grants, GDEcD’s International Trade Office also experienced a successful year, facilitating 17 percent more export deals than the previous year, for a total of 311. The trade division also served 1,111 companies, increasing export opportunities it provided to Georgia companies by 121 percent .
AN AUTOMOTIVE POWER RISES
It’s clear from the company expansions listed above that Georgia is having a big growth spurt in the auto- motive industry. This growth came from both U.S.-based companies and international automotive companies as well. Here are a few of the projects that were expanded or relocated to Georgia in 2012:
In November, Gov. Deal, Porsche President and Chief Executive Officer Detlev von Platen and numerous dignitaries broke ground for Porsche North America’s new headquarters at Aerotropolis Atlanta. The 26.4-acre complex will employ 400 workers and create 100 jobs.
“This world-class facility under- scores our commitment to customers and dealers in the United States, which remains the single largest market for Porsche vehicles,” said von Platen. “Today’s ceremony symbolized Porsche putting down permanent roots here in Atlanta, a city we have proudly called home since 1998.”
Porsche’s expansion and new location, announced in May 2011, will consolidate U.S.-based Porsche employees from Porsche Cars North America as well as the company’s financial, business and consulting arms. The site will encompass not only the company’s U.S. headquarters, but also the Porsche Technical Training Center as well as the Porsche Customer and Driving Experience Center, featuring a 1.6-mile test track and handling circuit. The company anticipates beginning operations in the first quarter of 2014.
“Porsche’s new headquarters is a terrific asset to Georgia’s economy and moves us closer to becoming the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business,” said Deal. “I’m confident One Porsche Drive will become a renowned address that stands for vision, innovation and success—as well as one of the greatest driving experiences in the world for the mil- lions of travelers who arrive in our great state each year.”
The company chose Aerotropolis Atlanta after a global search for the best location to grow and showcase its brand. Proximity to the customer base represented by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was a key factor in Porsche’s selection of the Aerotropolis site, the location of a former Ford Motor Company plant. Aerotropolis is owned and developed by Jacoby Development.
Partnering to assist the company with its expansion were the Georgia Department of Economic Development, City of Atlanta, City of Hapeville, InvestAtlanta, Fulton County and Clayton County. Blair Lewis, director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Corporate Solutions team, led the project team that assisted Porsche with its location.
Gov. Deal announced just a month later that Mando Corp. will be constructing a new casting facility in Meriwether County, investing $80 million and creating 660 jobs by 2020. Deal called on Mando at its Seoul headquarters during his business mission to Korea in the fall of 2011.
“It was a pleasure to meet with Mando’s leaders in Korea and learn about the company’s plans for growth,” said Deal. “Because Mando has an existing facility here, it was quick to realize how Georgia’s business resources are an advantage for an international company looking to expand. This decision moves us closer to making Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business.”
The new 317,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art casting facility in Meriwether Industrial Park will further expand Mando’s footprint in the United States, supporting the company’s manufacture and assembly of a new line of energy-efficient automotive parts. This casting facility will initially serve Mando’s Machining/Electric Power Steering Gear/Electronic Stability Control Module facility in North America.
Mando Corp. initially selected Meriwether County for its third U.S. manufacturing operation in September 2011 and has invested $200 million in a facility that created more than 400 jobs. It selected the Meriwether location for its expansion after a competitive search. With this expansion, Mando will become the largest employer in Meriwether County.
“We are extremely pleased that Mando has chosen our county to locate the new facility, and we certainly appreciate the investment and the new jobs they will create,” said Meriwether County Commission Chairman Nancy Jones. “I am so proud of the total spirit of cooperation by all parties, to make this expansion happen and grow our industry in Meriwether County.”
Mando was assisted with its expansion by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Meriwether Industrial Development Authority and the Meriwether County Commission. Georgia Department of Economic Development project manager EJane Caraway led the state’s project team. Hee-jung Shin, director of the state’s Korean office, also assisted with the project.
“Georgia’s labor climate is ranked No. 1 in the nation, so it’s not surprising that our existing industries are thriving,” said Cummiskey. “It’s important to note, though, that partnerships like the ones in this part of the state play a critical role in growing companies while retaining jobs in Georgia.”
Just a month later in the beginning of January 2013, Gov. Deal announced that yet another automotive company, General Motors will open an IT Innovation Center in Roswell, GA creating 1,000 high- tech jobs and investing $26 million. The move is part of GM’s company- wide shift to a new operating model to support its global business goals.
GM will purchase a 228,000-square-foot former UPS facility on Warsaw Road in Roswell for the Innovation Center, the third of four such centers it is opening in the United States to strengthen its internal innovation capabilities as part of the company’s transformation to improve performance, reduce the cost of on-going operations and increase its delivery of innovation. GM will hire software developers, project managers, database experts, business analysts and other IT professionals for the Innovation Center in Roswell. The company will begin recruitment immediately and anticipates adding approximately 1,000 new employees, recent college graduates as well as seasoned professionals, over the next three to five years.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development partnered with the city of Roswell to assist GM with its location. Blair Lewis, director of the Corporate Solutions group at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, was the project man- ager for the state. “It’s great to have a significant General Motors presence in the state once again,” GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey said.