Writer: Joshua Andino
2 min read October 2021— As the exodus from the Northeast continues, areas in the Southeast, like Dekalb County, are experiencing a surge in growth that has shown no signs of slowing down.
From Emory University to Stone Mountain, Dekalb County provides a bit of everything for everyone when it comes to its growing economy, and it has decided to take advantage by reintroducing itself with a branding update. Dorian DeBarr, President of Decide Dekalb, explained to Invest: why the move makes sense in the wake of these new arrivals.
“Timing and need were the factors behind our brand refresh and update. As we strive for a greater economic development impact within the county, our logo, color palette and website must align with that vision. It is a great time to do business in DeKalb! And the brand must reflect that in every way possible,” Debarr said.
In Dekalb, business is on the agenda as the county looks to grow local industries like the entertainment sector. In fact, Gray Television recently acquired Dekalb-based Third Rail Studios and its assembly site in Doraville. The new studio will break ground near the Indian Creek MARTA station. Similarly, Blackhall Studios, one of the largest purpose-built sound stages in the United States is in the planning stages of a major expansion. “Results from our film and television industry report concluded that our projected growth would increase by 7% by 2023,” Debarr told Invest:. “That equates to a little over $1 billion in revenue and nearly 11,000 new jobs.”
While the film industry continues to boom, Dekalb has sought to provide incentives and assistance to the entire business community through its Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) program.
“If there are resources required, the manager will be there to help facilitate those efforts,” DeBarr said. “This service also assists businesses looking to expand their footprint in the county. As for workforce development, Decide DeKalb wants to ensure those who live in DeKalb County are positioned to make livable-wage jobs because they have the proper skill set and training. Our robust workforce pipeline is efficient and effective, and we can pair companies with appropriate resources. We want to make sure the business community is at the table when we’re having conversations about their desire to settle in DeKalb, hire and train DeKalb residents and, at some point, expand in DeKalb County”
The Business Retention and Expansion program ties together with the recently launched M.A.D.E. in DeKalb initiative that looks to ensure students, through their educators, are made aware of career opportunities in the local manufacturing and logistics industries present in DeKalb, and how to transfer those skills from the classroom to the workplace. Educators visited worksites at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Schneider National, WinCup, Hermeus and Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute to learn and incorporate material into their curriculums.
“The program exposed our educators to emerging industries here in the county through a series of site visits and class instruction,” Debarr said. “Equipped with this new information, teachers went back into the classroom and built those learnings into their curriculum. The level of exposure and understanding our educators have of alternative career opportunities will positively impact the future of our students who may not take the traditional career route.”
DeBarr highlighted that it wasn’t just him pushing for a better DeKalb County future, explaining that while Decide DeKalb was the primary economic development agency for the county, much of what the organization is able to offer is due to partnerships with the 13 cities in the county, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Power. “With CEO Michael Thurmond’s solid leadership and collaborative energy around doing business in the county, DeKalb has a very bright future ahead,” DeBarr added.
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