The Advantages of Living in Atlanta, Take 2

Atlanta is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies representing clients from all around the globe, in addition to the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but it’s also the many local city officials, metro corporations and the area’s chamber of commerces that drive the engine making it so successful.

In order to find out exactly what some of the area’s top executives believe makes this area “the place” to live, work and play, we at KNOWAtlanta asked them three questions:
– List three reasons why people/companies relocate to metro Atlanta?
– How would you sell metro Atlanta to someone/a company looking to relocate or start a company here?
– How might you describe the ?Atlanta advantage? to relocators or anyone unfamiliar with the metro area?

Individuals interviewed for this article include:
– Chris Spears, Chief Marketing Technologist, Arke Systems LLC: Arke specializes in custom web application and software development, database development, business intelligence and Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint solutions.
– Betsy Tyler, PIO/City Clerk, City of Peachtree City: It was named Top 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S. by CNN/Money Magazine five times, as well as Best Cities for Women Entrepreneurs by goodcall.com and Best Small Cities for Working Parents by NerdWallet in 2015.
– Gregg Simon, Vice President of Economic Development, Metro Atlanta Chamber: From recruiting businesses to tackling policy issues, MAC’s efforts in metro Atlanta are designed to promote prosperity and growth for you and your business.
– Rory Carlton, Principal, Arketi Group: This firm focuses on high-tech PR and digital marketing for business-to-business products, services, product marketing and technology marketing.
– Pam Beckerman, Senior Director of HR, Jabian Consulting: Named a “Top Work Place” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution four years in a row, Jabian is a strategic management and technology consultancy that applies senior level consulting specialists to its clients’ top priority projects.
Andrew Bouldin, Manager of Talent Acquisition, Georgia Power: Established in 1902, this electric utility company is the largest of four owned and operated by Southern Company, and it serves more than 2.25 million customers statewide.
– Lawrence Gellerstedt, SE Leader/Tech Practice Group, Cushman & Wakefield: After completing a merger in September with DTZ, the two organizations will now create one of the world’s largest real estate services firms — a combined total of $5 billion in revenue.

List three reasons why people/companies relocate to metro Atlanta?

1. Great place to grow your career regardless of the stage of life you are in. Tremendous opportunity.
2. The airport! It is easy to get anywhere in the world from Atlanta and that helps with business and personal travel.
3. The getaways! Near Atlanta, we have many lakes, the Blue Ridge Mountains and loads of beaches — all within a short drive and great for relaxing after all that work!

— Chris Spears

1. Jobs: People relocate with companies moving here or due to the employment center Atlanta represents and the continuing job growth in the metro area.
2. Hartsfield-Jackson: A driving force throughout Peachtree City’s history, and in Atlanta’s recent history, is the status of the world?s busiest airport, making it both as a major employment center and a convenience for corporations who want to take advantage of convenient access to the world market.
3. Family: In Peachtree City, we see a lot of extended family moving to the area after initial family members relocate here. It may be grandparents moving to be closer to children and grandchildren, or family members who have visited and fallen in love with the area that decide to relocate.

— Betsy Tyler

1. Job opportunities: From starting a business to working for a leading global brand, upwardly mobile professionals have unlimited opportunities to make their mark in Atlanta. The region is home to 29 Fortune 1000 companies, which includes 18 Fortune 500s and more than 1,000 start-ups. Atlanta’s innovation economy is thriving as well. The region is a hub for fast-growing technology sectors that are spurring job growth. These sectors include financial technology (FinTech), health IT, mobility, cyber security, digital media and entertainment.
2. Quality of life: Offering an exceptional quality of life, Atlanta is a great place to call “home.” Locations like the Atlanta BeltLine, a sustainable redevelopment project that connects public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor is a key attraction. Metro Atlanta has a lot of greenspace and natural beauty with plenty of parks and more tree coverage than any other city in the U.S. There is also a strong arts and entertainment scene with plenty of cultural attractions, museums, theaters and major sports events.
3. Low cost of living: Ranked the No. 1 “Top Moving Destination” in the U.S. by Penske in 2014, Atlanta is also known its low cost of living. The region is the No. 2 metro for affordable home ownership (NerdWallet, 2014).

— Gregg Simon

1. Career opportunities
2. Central location and hub for the Southeast
3. Great weather

— Andrew Bouldin

1. Quality of life: Our weather is never too hot or cold, and we have four real seasons! The weather combined with the design of the city makes Atlanta a very comfortable place to live with ample activities — outdoor activities, sports, dining, shopping, nightlife and the growing arts scene. We also have a variety of living choices, with the ‘burbs, options in town, bungalows and various neighborhoods and styles of life. For families, there are great schools for the kids and higher education classes with the flexibility to meet the working professionals’ needs.
2. Business opportunities are booming: Atlanta is home to several Fortune 500 companies and continues to welcome big businesses — such as Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and more — that are relocating to Atlanta. With the influx of business opportunities, there are also ample job opportunities for career-seekers.
3. Cost of living: Unlike other markets, the cost of living is reasonable in Atlanta. Housing is not too expensive, transportation and taxes are reasonable and, overall, it’s an economic place to live.

— Rory Carlton

1. Southern Charm: There is a push to be in urban markets, especially the younger generation. And the older generations want to be around hospitals and ways to care for themselves long-term, and they want to be around their grandkids, who want to be near the cities. That being said, people have decided that they want to figure out a way to live in the South, but the big hold is the economy. They wonder what they can do for a living, but I think Atlanta offers that. Atlanta has said, “We can give you that true, urban feel. We can give you access to the whole world, but it?s still here in the South, with the weather, the people and the Southern Charm.”
2. High quality of life: It’s not just that you can have more house, it’s about the fact that you will be exposed to different cultures. You are exposed to art, we have a symphony … it’s a very important part of the quality of life in Atlanta. It also means that you can do what you want. If you want to live in a high-rise above a MARTA station and never own a car, you can. That can happen in Atlanta. But if you want a big house and to work in a suburban office building and you want all the amenities that you grew up with in a small town in North Carolina, that’s also here. We have a variety of music that’s not only played here, but produced here. We have also TV and film — it’s being produced and cast here. The quality of life is the variety in Atlanta, which is super important. We have everything for everybody.
3. Low cost of living: What you have to pay to be a part of all these different things in Atlanta is super cost-effective compared to other cities. It’s not cheap, but the value you’re getting when living here and what you can get for your money here is incredible.

— Lawrence Gellerstedt

How would you sell metro Atlanta to someone/a company looking to relocate or start a company here?

Metro Atlanta has many assets that make it the ideal place to start/grow a business.
1. Unmatched access through Hartsfield-Jackson: More than 80 percent of U.S. consumers can be reached from Atlanta in two flight hours or two truckload delivery days. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport by passenger volume and No. 1 U.S. airport for total nonstop markets served (domestic and international).
2. International presence: Approximately 70 countries have representation in metro Atlanta and the region has more than 79 consular and trade offices and 38 bi-national chambers of commerce.
3. Competitive business climate: Metro Atlanta has the 10th-largest metro economy in the U.S. and the largest metro economy in the Southeast region. It was ranked No. 1 in 2014 by KPMG for “Lowest Cost of Doing Business” of the largest U.S. metro areas. Also, in 2014, the Kauffman Foundation rated Atlanta a “Top 10 Metro for Entrepreneurial Activity.”
4. Strong talent pipeline: Businesses are fueled with top talent from more than 66 colleges and universities and the 275,000 students enrolled in the metro Atlanta region.
5. Thriving innovation economy: Metro Atlanta has a thriving innovation economy. In 2014, companies in metro Atlanta attracted more than $495 million in venture capital funding.

— Gregg Simon

You can’t beat Atlanta for a corporate headquarters. We have amazing colleges that are producing great workers across a broad variety of degrees. Add in the airport and now it is easy to get to clients, partners and vendors across the globe. And finally, the cost of living is still reasonable in Atlanta and you can love great!

— Chris Spears

Variety is the constant in metro Atlanta, whether someone wants the bustling lifestyle in many of the Intown neighborhoods and communities, the quiet retreat of the suburbs or the small town lifestyle of many of the historic towns and cities within the metro area. The mild winters and change of seasons is wonderful, and both the mountains and the beach are just a short drive away. Add the mix of sports teams, entertainment, universities and the arts, and metro Atlanta offers something for everyone.

— Betsy Tyler

  • Well-educated and diverse workforce
  • Medium cost of living
  • Easy access to large population within on, three and five hours

— Andrew Bouldin

  • Excellent growth economy: Since the recession, Atlanta has had a vibrant economy with companies in various industries. For employers looking to grow, the local universities ensure a wealth of young talent along with seasoned professionals. With the new businesses and big names moving in, there’s still room to grow.
  • Affordable: From SMBs to enterprises, Atlanta offers affordable office and industrial space, competitive wages and reasonable taxes. With a good economy and great business climate, it’s no surprise that businesses keep moving here.
  • Good logistics: Though we love to complain about traffic, it’s pretty easy to get around and any location is just minutes from the nearest freeway access. With Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, it’s an ideal place to get in and out both domestically and internationally.

— Rory Carlton

How might you describe the “Atlanta advantage” to relocators or anyone unfamiliar with the metro area?

We are the hub of commerce in the South. We have a large and very diverse population that leads to amazing food, art and our own unique Atlanta culture.

— Chris Spears

  • Access to world-class food, entertainment and sports
  • Airport is a gateway to the world

— Andrew Bouldin

With more than 5.6 million people — the ninth largest population in the nation — Atlanta is a global region, driven by innovation. Atlanta’s pro-business climate continues to attract top companies including Mercedes-Benz USA, Cricket Wireless, Pulte Group and many more. Along with its competitive business climate, Atlanta provides an exceptional quality of life, low-cost of living and many diverse cultural opportunities. The region has a world-class airport, multiple parks and greenspace and renowned colleges and universities. Residents can experience all four seasons, with mild winters that rarely require a snow shovel. Atlanta is a great place to call home!
 — Gregg Simon

Metro Atlanta is a cosmopolitan city of the 21st century, blessed by continuous growth, and it is home to people and communities from across the country and around the world. And while the accents vary, everyone adopts the most important tradition of the region — Southern hospitality and friendliness.
 — Betsy Tyler

  • Terrific culture: What separates Atlanta from other major cities is that we have the big city culture without the hard edge. As a melting pot of transplants, we welcome other newcomers openly with Southern charm and flair.
  • The right amount of critical mass: Atlanta truly is a central hub with a mix of businesses, people, employees, things to do and logistics. The economy is just big enough to provide plenty of opportunities, and unlike cities such as Los Angeles and New York, Atlanta has avoided becoming unmanageable or fragmented. Atlanta is still a coherent city that people can get their arms around mentally and physically.

—  Rory Carlton

  • Universities and technical colleges have abundant talent
  • Reasonable housing prices and other cost of living factors
  • Attractive quality of life (culture, sports, recreation)
  • Business friendly environment (incentives, B2B cooperation)
  • Ethic of community engagement; norms for service; activist CEOs
  • Hub for growing industries such as financial tech, healthcare, logistics, entertainment, supply chain
  • Growing entrepreneurial ecosystem

 — Pam Beckerman

From a business perspective, Atlanta is this incredible city that has a business ecosystem anchored by big, stable, enterprise companies that are kept at a very high pace by this start-up community that we have going on right now that’s providing the innovation, keeping those companies relevant. We have a great group of companies that are helping fund innovation, which is helping these companies stay relevant. And if you take that ecosystem and put it in a place where we have four great seasons, a variety of cultures and are near an airport where we can export that culture and those goods, it’s the best of all worlds. The best business ecosystem you can have, put right in the middle of the transportation gift that we’ve been given with the best people in the world. I love it here. I’m never going anywhere! I often tell people that I was made to be here.
 — Lawrence Gellerstedt