Atlanta Creates Board to Boost Tech Growth, Connectivity

By staff writer

April 2019

Atlanta may be one of the nation’s leading technology hubs, but the city isn’t satisfied. Last week, it announced the formation of a Chief Information Advisory Board (CIAB) to take its tech industry to the next level while improving the city’s digital connections.

Leaders from public and private sectors who comprise the board will analyze the challenges facing Atlanta’s technology sector and overall digital connectivity. Members of the CIAB team include IT leaders from Delta Airlines, Georgia State University, Cox Enterprises, Equifax, Chick-fil-A, Southern Company, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Quikrete, Adams & Reese LLP and Atlanta Tech Village.

 “The Chief Information Officer Advisory Board will play a vital role in setting the strategic direction for innovation and technology now and in the future,” said Gary Brantley, the city’s chief information officer.  “We’re thrilled to partner with these senior executives within top companies whose deep experience will fuel our agenda and help shape the future of technology in the great city of Atlanta.”

Building the right ecosystem for a growing tech hub requires a community of entrepreneurs, tech-focused corporations and higher education institutions who can supply skilled workers. As they say, it takes a village, and Atlanta has created its own Atlanta Tech Village, the country’s fourth largest tech hub. And it’s tethered to a robust investment and business community.

The city’s goal is to create 10,000 jobs and fuel Atlanta’s rise to a top-5 U.S. tech start-up center. The Village facilitates connections between talent, ideas and capital. In addition to providing fully equipped office space, The Village offers daily interactions to spread ideas and collaboratively solve problems; mentors and advisors who guide participants through challenges; networking events and classes to create collaborations and pre-accelerator programs; discounts from partners like Google, Microsoft and Hubspot; pitch competitions; and access to talent that can help grow businesses and attract new customers.

Atlanta is also home to the BridgeCommunity, a platform developed by Coca-Cola that aims to accelerate the success of technology start-ups by connecting them to corporations, while supporting local entrepreneurship. In addition, those with ties to cybersecurity and machine learning have a robust accelerator program in Cyberlaunch.

Higher education opportunities for techies include programs at Georgia Tech and Emory University, designed to help students and non-students further their businesses and achieve greater success. They’re another critical component of the city’s high-tech plans.

“We are proud of the ever-growing tech hub Atlanta has created,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms upon announcing the new board. Its members, she said, “will serve as a great resource as we explore how we can continue to use technology in creative ways to improve our city and leverage our innovative local tech community.”

To learn more, please visit: https://www.business.org/business/startup/top-cities-for-entrepreneurs-and-startups/

Atlanta Chief Information Officer Advisory Board members include:

Eric Anderson, Egon Zehnder
David Cummings, Atlanta Tech Village
Cynthia Curry, Metro Atlanta Chamber
Martin Davis, Southern Company
Michael “Mike“ Ebrick, Chick-fil-A
Jay Ferro, Quikrete
Roy Hadley, Adams and Reese LLP
Bryson Koehler, Equifax
Danielle McPherson, Delta Airlines
Gregory Morrison, Cox Enterprises
Krishnakumar “KK“ Narayanan, Delta Air Lines
Phil Ventimiglia, Georgia State University
Tye Hayes, City of Atlanta

Midterm Madness

By staff writer
November 8, 2018 – 2 min. read

Tuesday’s midterm elections attracted record numbers of voters, with estimates putting the count at 113 million. This historic turnout brought 110 female winners, the country’s first openly gay governor and more than 30 flipped seats in Congress, but it also underscored the deep and often contentious divide facing our nation. Capital Analytics has been keeping a close eye on the results, particularly those affecting our markets in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

One of the biggest takeaways is the Democrats regaining control of the House, surpassing the 23 seats necessary for majority rule by more than 10. In Florida, former University of Miami president Donna Shalala won the 27th District previously held by Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, edging out Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell also won over Republican Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th District. Pennsylvania saw three seats flipped by Democrats Mary Scanlon in the 5th District, Conor Lamb in the 17th District and Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District.

Two congressional races in Georgia remained too close to call Wednesday evening, the first in the 6th District, where Republican Karen Handel is seeking reelection but trailed Democrat Lucy McBath 49.55 percent to 50.45 percent. In the 7th District, Republican Rob Woodall and Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux were in a similar position, with Woodhall holding a slight lead of 50.23 percent over Bourdeaux’s 49.77 percent. Georgia law requires a recount if the final vote margin is 1 percent or less, according to the Associated Press. Both campaigns are waiting for absentee ballots to be counted in hopes of naming a clear winner.

Though the House succumbed to the “blue wave,” the GOP not only retained control of the Senate but also bolstered it with a number of key victories in states like Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. In Florida, the hotly contested race between Republican former governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is heading for automatic recount. According to unofficial returns posted on Wednesday by the state Division of Elections, Scott held a 30,239-vote lead out of 8.1 million ballots cast — a difference of just .38 percent. In Florida, if the margin in a race is less than .5 percent, a recount is automatically triggered. The Senate race might not be the only one to move to recount, either. Florida’s agriculture commissioner contest between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried is even tighter, with Caldwell carrying a slim .16 percent lead on Wednesday evening.

While Tom Wolf comfortably won reelection in Pennsylvania, the Florida and Georgia governor’s races were much more hotly contested. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis early on Wednesday, but by late Wednesday DeSantis’s lead had narrowed to a margin of just .57 percent. However, this still remained outside of the .5 percent margin that requires a recount under Florida law. Votes were still being counted on Thursday morning, and if the margin falls below .5 percent, a recount will be triggered.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race is even closer, with Democrat Stacey Abrams refusing to concede to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and vowing to “fight for every vote.” While Kemp’s campaign declared victory to reporters on Wednesday evening, the Abrams campaign readied its legal team to challenge the election results. A runoff, if it comes to that, would be held on December 4.

Even as heated battles underscored the increasingly polarized nature of U.S. politics, culminating in a divided Congress, the 2018 midterms marked a new high for women taking seats in the chamber, with 98 women projected to win in the House and 12 in the Senate. Even more notable is the fact that 34 of these women are newly elected members of Congress. This “pink wave” includes 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in history to take a seat in Congress, serving New York’s 14th District. In Pennsylvania, a record-breaking four women are projected to win seats in the House. This is particularly momentous considering not a single woman currently represents the state in the House. Women are also projected to win in nine gubernatorial races (not counting Stacey Abrams, who is still vying to become the country’s first female African-American governor).

In addition to the inroads made by women, there has also been a noticeable push for diversity in public office. Two Muslim women and two Native American women will take seats in Congress, and Colorado’s Jared Polis (D) will become the country’s first openly gay governor. Overall, more than 100 LGBTQ candidates claimed victory on Tuesday night, indicating changing attitudes toward how voters think about both LGBTQ candidates and rights. Exit polls suggest that voter diversity also hit all-time highs for midterm elections, with the non-white vote estimated at 28 percent. (For perspective, in 1990 non-white voters accounted for just 9 percent of the vote.)

While some races remain too close to call and others were resounding losses or victories, depending on which side of the party line you walk, the fact that so many people showed up to vote is something all parties can be proud of. We’ll be keeping an eye on the tight races in Florida and Georgia and looking forward to what’s in store in 2020.

 

Next Stop: Alpharetta

By staff writer
October 2018 – 2 min. read

It might come as a surprise that the name Alpharetta often pops up when executives in the high-tech sector go scouting for sites to expand or relocate. Yet for many years Alpharetta has successfully lured high-tech companies to the quiet purlieu of Atlanta. Notable reasons include the city’s developing technology infrastructure — such as its nexus of fiber optics — but also the access to a high quality of life, complete with good roads, good neighbors, excellent housing options and affordable university systems.

The groundwork for this kind of development was laid 20 years ago in Alpharetta, when private groups invested in those fiber optic lines. Another boon for the local economy was the widening and redevelopment of Georgia 400 into an eight-lane highway. Since then, Alpharetta has also established itself as a notable travel destination for both business and leisure.

Focus: Atlanta recently spoke with Janet Rodgers, president and CEO of the Alpharetta Conventions and Visitors Bureau (CVB), about this development and how it has encouraged more visitors over the years.

 

 

“With the foresight and the exponential growth of the city in the last 20 years,” Rodgers told Focus:, “Alpharetta is now home to thriving corporations and more than 625 technology-based companies, bringing more businesses and business travelers to the city each day. Alpharetta has been home to 23 hotels to accommodate those travelers for nearly 15 years now. This year, that changed with the addition of a four-star hotel in Avalon that hosts 330 rooms and a 44,000-square-foot conference center.”

Rodgers notes that Avalon was the first Gigabit community in Georgia, and as the city continues to grow and evolve with more business developments, so will the number of hotels to accommodate the expanding number of business travelers.

“These two growth factors go hand in hand, much like how the city and Alpharetta CVB work together, with the city promoting itself to new businesses and approving development projects while the CVB promotes the destination as a place where successful business happens with hotel accommodations for business travelers,” Rodgers told Focus:. “We credit the hotel development success to the strong average daily rates and occupancy rates in the city’s hotels. The travelers dine in our city’s restaurants, purchase gas from our city’s stations, shop in our city’s stores and patronize our city’s entertainment venues and attractions. These travelers increase the economic impact of the destination to help these businesses thrive within our city. The developers bringing new hotels and travelers to the city are what make Alpharetta a strong destination for shopping, dining, events, attractions and new businesses.”

As the growth continues, there are approximately 1,500 guest rooms per night that will be added to Alpharetta’s hotel inventory, averaging about 4,000 total guest rooms per night in the city. “The city and Alpharetta CVB will continue to work hard to make the destination attractive for not only the business traveler but also for family reunions, weddings, sports tournaments, bar/bat mitzvahs, leisure travelers — and everyone who wants to be here,” Rodgers says.

The Alpharetta CVB is the official destination marketing organization for the city, and the organization has amassed repeat visitors by establishing a strong and identifiable brand for Alpharetta. “The city has worked hard to make the city what it is today, and the CVB has worked hard to brand it as such,” Rodgers told Focus:. “It’s innovative, it’s upscale, it’s dynamic, it’s safe and clean. And yet the city has still retained its small-town suburban charm, where you feel comfortable bringing your family and orchestrating business. We show CEOs that this is where they want to live and start their business. We are contributors to that economic engine.”

To learn more about the “Alpharetta Buzz,” visit the CVB website:
https://www.awesomealpharetta.com/

The Economy of Beer in Georgia

July 2018 — In September 2017, Senate Bill 85 went into effect, finally allowing Georgia breweries to sell beer directly to consumers in taprooms. In addition, the bill did away with mandatory tours and allowed the sale of beer to-go and food on-premise. Thanks to the new laws, SweetWater Brewing recently announced plans to turn its taproom on Ottley Drive into a restaurant and bar. But SweetWater isn’t the only brewery excited about the bill. Another wave of craft breweries has opened across the region to take advantage of the new law’s economic impact.

In 2011, the entire state of Georgia counted only 21 craft breweries. Today, that number has more than doubled, reaching more than 53 statewide. And it continues to grow, with numerous breweries slated to open in 2018. In 2016, the annual economic impact of beer for Georgia was estimated to be $8.5 billion, more than $1.6 billion of which was generated by craft beer. On a national level, breweries contributed about $68 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the Brewers Association.

Craft breweries might be small, but they clearly pack a large economic punch, especially in terms of injecting new energy and attracting business to struggling industrial districts. Breweries help to activate foot traffic, stimulate nightlife and spur economic development in their vicinity. In recognition of their impact, December’s sweeping tax reform included a provision that lowered the tax rate on beer produced in the U.S., particularly for small breweries.

 

In September 2017, Monday Night Brewing (MNB) opened its second facility, the Garage, along a recently completed section of the Atlanta BeltLine in the West End. This is a shining example of how craft breweries help to revitalize abandoned industrial properties and breathe new life into older communities. The Garage’s success has also helped to highlight the economic power of the BeltLine, as a once underinvested area of Atlanta is now seeing renewed investment interest from both home and abroad.

Jeff Heck, CEO of MNB, told Atlanta magazine back in March 2017, “A lot of what makes [craft] beer special is the community aspect, and the neighborhood has such a welcoming character that we feel we could grow with it and be part of an emerging area.”  

Following in MNB’s footsteps, New Realm Brewing opened along the BeltLine in early 2018, including a farm-to-table restaurant, rooftop patio and beer garden.

There’s no question Atlanta’s brewery game is strong and getting stronger. Since SB 85 went into effect in September, 13 new breweries have opened statewide, creating 250 jobs and generating more than $30 million in direct investment. Dozens of craft beverage facilities are in the works in the Atlanta Metro area, including Halfway Crooks Brewing and Blending, which is under construction in the Summerhill neighborhood of Downtown, and North Fulton’s first distillery, planned for historic downtown Roswell.

Atlanta is quickly solidifying its place as a southern mecca for craft beer, bringing positive growth and development to the region in the process. The beer aficionados at Focus: Atlanta think this is great news!

 

Peach State Primaries

May 23, 2018 — With well-liked Governor Nathan Deal stepping down at the end of his two-term limit, the Georgia governor’s race has become the midterm election to watch. In last night’s primaries, Stacey Abrams edged out State Representative Stacey Evans to advance as the Democratic candidate. In November she will go up against either Lieutenant Governor Casey Cage or Secretary of State Brian Kemp, both of whom advanced to the Republican primary runoff to be held on July 24.

Abrams, who is a former minority leader of the Georgia House, would be both the first black governor of Georgia and the first black female governor of any U.S. state. She has already made history as Georgia’s first black nominee for governor. The foundation of her campaign is representing the “Georgia of tomorrow,” and her focus will be on mobilizing her core supporters, particularly young people, women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

 

While Atlanta is often called the “capital of black America” and the state’s demographics are changing rapidly, Georgia has elected Republican governors since 2003, and the state voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election (at just over 50 percent). Abrams’ work is certainly cut out for her, but she is another example of Democratic women finding success in this year’s primaries. Another woman celebrating today is former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who upset Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the Democratic House primary in Kentucky.

Back in Georgia, voters will want to keep a close eye on the Sixth and Seventh Districts, both traditionally Republican strongholds in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, where incumbents will likely face strong Democratic challengers in November.

1979 was the last time a Democrat represented Georgia’s Sixth District, notorious for being the state’s most competitive congressional district. In last year’s special election, Karen Handel — another woman who made history by serving as Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state — was forced to put up a strong fight to beat Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. Handel is up for reelection this year, and determined challengers Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel, both of whom advanced to the Democratic primary runoff, are hoping to unseat her.

In the Seventh District, Carolyn Bordeaux and David Kim advanced to the Democratic runoff. The winner of the runoff will face incumbent Rob Woodall in November in what could be the most competitive election of his career so far. While Woodall has never received less than 60 percent of votes in an election, his district is mostly based in Gwinnett County, which voted Democratic in the 2016 election for the first time since 1976.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting midterm election year, and Focus: Atlanta will be keeping a close eye on the races in Georgia.

 

Focus: Atlanta Is Back and Means Business

Capital Analytics to publish second annual report of Focus: Atlanta

February 23, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ATLANTA — Following generous praise from the local and international business communities after the launch of Focus: Atlanta, Capital Analytics is currently working on the city’s second annual report. An emphasis on innovation is a focal point for Focus: Atlanta 2019, a comprehensive business review analyzing the key issues facing Metro Atlanta’s economy, featuring comments from the city’s top industry leaders.

Joe Brannen, president and CEO of the Georgia Bankers Association, said the first review “showed well the complexity, diversity and opportunities in the Atlanta Metro Market,” while Ceasar Mitchell, president of the Atlanta City Council, called the book “so important for our city.”

The first edition of Focus: Atlanta included insights gleaned from one-on-one, in-person discussions with over 200 C-level executives, including Nathan Deal, governor of the State of Georgia; Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development; and Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of North America, Porsche, among many others.

“Our first edition served as an introduction to Atlanta, both in terms of growth and economic diversification,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Its overwhelmingly positive reception ensured we would follow up the inaugural launch with an even deeper look at how market newcomers and veterans can take advantage of the region’s investment opportunities.”

Distributed locally, nationally and globally, Focus: Atlanta serves as the first comprehensive business report to holistically assess the economy of the Greater Atlanta Metro Area. Of its more than 660,000 global readers, 70 percent are senior executives who use the in-depth business intelligence to make informed business decisions within industries that range from health to hospitality and from aviation to fintech.

The highly anticipated launch of Focus: Atlanta took place in November 2017 at the Hilton Downtown, where former Mayor Kasim Reed delivered a keynote address that touched on a few of the city’s most recent economic achievements. The event was attended by over 200 industry leaders, including Atlanta city officials, consul generals and notable businessmen and women from each of the market’s major sectors.

Capital Analytics is excited to return to the market with a brand-new team to spearhead the second edition of Focus: Atlanta. The team is led by Executive Director Shanteia Davenport and Editorial Manager Katherine Henson, both experts in the media and advertising industries. This powerhouse duo is eager to create a high-quality report that dives even deeper than the first and showcases the city they love.

The production of the second edition is already underway as the Capital Analytics team reconnects with key contributors and establishes partnerships with new industry leaders. Focus: Atlanta is a unique opportunity for the local business community to tell the world, in its own words, why Atlanta is such a dynamic place to do business.

For more information contact:

Jaime Muehl

Managing Editor

contact@capitalaa.com

TEL: 305-523-9708

Georgia State of the State: Orchards of Opportunity

February 2018 — On Thursday, January 11, 2018, Governor Deal gave his final state of the state address. He started off the speech with an anecdote about planting a tree for the next generation of leadership in Georgia: “I am not planting this tree for me. I am planting it for those who come after me.”

Deal continued his nature symbolism by comparing Georgia’s accomplishments to orchards of opportunity. Each success under his administration represents a separate orchard. The successes include accomplishments in the film industry, the education sector, infrastructure, criminal justice reform and even mental health.

As expected, Governor Deal touched on the key points of his administration in his address. He noted the importance that the film industry has had in Atlanta in the past decade. Ten years ago, Atlanta’s film industry generated $241 million in economic impact. In 2017, it generated $9.5 billion and employed 92,000 workers with above-average salaries. The industry has grown so much that in 2016 the state of Georgia was ranked the number one filming location for most successful movies.

But the film industry is not the only sector that has made strides. In particular, Governor Deal noted that the Georgia government has increased K-12 education spending by $3.6 billion in the last seven years, making the total education expenditure $14 million during his administration. Deal emphasized the importance of educating the youth of today to prepare them to become the workforce of tomorrow.

In terms of higher education, Georgia is one of only three states to have more than one top-20 university. Also, since Deal took office, the HOPE scholarship and grant programs — which were on the verge of bankruptcy — have been reinstated and continue to provide higher education learning opportunities to many students. The HOPE Career Grant, which covers full tuition for Georgia students enrolled in technical schools that educate the workforce for high-demand fields, was also created.

Governor Deal touched on infrastructure improvements by mentioning the Transportation Funding Act enacted under his administration. The act provides a 10-year, $11 billion transportation investment plan that is unprecedented in the state of Georgia and will promote sustained growth in the region for decades to come.

The governor not only mentioned his past accomplishments but also laid the groundwork for his last year in office. He is proposing a $50 billion state spending plan that continues to prioritize the same sectors, especially education.

Governor Deal has been leading Georgia since 2011. His term as governor will end this November. To read his state of the state address in full and to get more details, click here.

A Touchdown for the Community

 

January 2018 — In 2017, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park — the new homes of the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves, respectively — were both successfully completed, not to mention the major upgrades underway at Philips Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks. Not only do these investments benefit the sports teams these stadiums house, but also they have a profound impact on the surrounding communities.

 

 

The inaugural Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium alone generated $62.5 million in economic impact for Atlanta. The stadium is predicted to have an annual economic impact of between $80 million and $120 million. The construction of SunTrust Park created 5,200 jobs and generated $235 million in earnings. Now that the ballpark is complete, it is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $200 million. Focus: Atlanta spoke with a number of leaders in the city’s sports industry to gain insights on how investment in these stadiums is benefiting the community. Here’s what they said:

Steve Koonin, CEO, Atlanta Hawks

“We have an emphasis on sports, but Philips Arena is town hall for Atlanta. It holds nearly 200 events per year and was the sixth-busiest arena in the first half of 2017 for the U.S. It is the 20th busiest in the world. The continuing diversity of entertainment options that take place in downtown Atlanta and our building really are the cornerstones for entertainment in the city. We are well underway with an extensive $192.5-million arena transformation that will catapult the level of our fan experience, creating an even more engaging and connected environment for today’s fan.”

Derek Schiller, President, Business, Atlanta Braves

“We opened the doors to SunTrust Park on April 14, and so far we’ve had an enormous economic impact on this entire region, this entire community, as well as the value of the Braves franchise. We’ve become a catalyst for this part of Atlanta, which sits within the Cumberland Community Improvement District. This part of Atlanta has certainly benefited as a result of the Braves coming to SunTrust Park, as well as our Battery Atlanta development. It took a project like this that somewhat galvanized the entire submarket together and created a destination offering, not only for the Cumberland submarket, but really for Atlanta as well as the Southeast.”

Rich McKay, President and CEO, Atlanta Falcons

“Stadiums do not on their own create economic impact beyond the construction aspect, which is big of course. The construction of the stadium brought jobs, but we also wanted to make sure that it kept on having an impact on the West Side even after the project finished. For Arthur Blank, the stadium is not a five- or ten-year commitment, it’s a lifetime commitment, and we can use the stadium as a catalyst to try to bring a lot of other people along with us, such as corporate sponsors, and to help the local community.”

Stephen Cannon, CEO, AMB Group

“If you look at the level of sports investment that’s happened in 2017 in the City of Atlanta, it’s unparalleled. Nowhere else in the country are there two major stadium projects underway — SunTrust Park together with the Mercedes-Benz Stadium — not to mention the commencement of a major upgrade of Phillips Arena. The level of investment is in the billions. AMB Group is a major piece of that, but it’s not just us. That kind of commitment to investment makes Atlanta a more attractive place to live and to work. For example, the decision for Mercedes-Benz to move to the city was based on talent, the dynamic growth that’s going on in the city and the quality of life. All these items add up to corporations making the decision to relocate.”

Scott Jenkins, General Manager, Mercedes-Benz Stadium

“Working with local partners has been a great experience because it is positive to have people who own those businesses invested in Atlanta as part of the construction. It is important to be invested in the community. We had an equal business opportunities goal of 31 percent of the construction going to minority- and female-owned businesses. In fact, we managed 36 percent, so that was a huge success in promoting disadvantaged local businesses. We’re a part of the Westside Works Programme, which is putting a lot of people to work from the neighborhood. We’ve trained about 500 people over the past three years, many of them in construction, and a lot of them working on this job. Our food and beverage program has also had a lot of students. These programs make a real impact on people’s lives.”

To find out more about our interviewees above, visit their websites at:

Atlanta Hawks: http://www.nba.com/hawks/
Atlanta Braves: https://www.mlb.com/braves
Atlanta Falcons: http://www.atlantafalcons.com
AMB Group: http://blankfamilyofbusinesses.com/company/amb-group/
Mercedes Benz Stadium: http://mercedesbenzstadium.com

Mutual Benefits

Christian Fischer of Georgia-Pacific on giving back to community

 

How Metro Atlanta has developed to become a home for major firms, which then give back to the community

Capital Analytics speaks with Christian Fischer, President and CEO of Georgia-Pacific

Focus: Atlanta, Atlanta’s first and only yearly, in-depth business guide was released in November of this year. The report gives a comprehensive insider perspective on the ongoing success story that is Atlanta. The region’s top leaders from business and government share their insights on what is driving the city’s growth and in what direction Metro Atlanta is moving. Job growth, a robust startup environment and cross-sector investments in city improvements that increase the quality of life are all highlighted as factors underlying the success of Atlanta in continuing to attract new businesses and retain long-time economic staples.

One such local icon featured in the Focus: Atlanta is Christian Fischer, President and CEO of Georgia-Pacific, with whom Capital Analytics met to discuss these topics and more.

What can Atlanta do to encourage continued growth?

Georgia-Pacific employs approximately 3,000 people in Downtown, so we’re supportive of investments that make the city safer, cleaner, more modern and appealing. Specifically, improving public education and our public transportation system are areas we need to continue to tackle. These improvements are not only good for us as a major employer, but they help sustain local businesses and attract new business and investors.

How has Georgia-Pacific capitalized on partnerships within Atlanta?

As a member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber board for many years, we’ve been an active part of the issues and initiatives that have improved our city’s quality of life – from education to infrastructure. We also have collaborated with other businesses recently on an exciting new accelerator program called Engage Ventures, which helps entrepreneurial companies with their go-to-market strategies. Georgia-Pacific is one of the founding partners, along with several Fortune 1000 brands based in Atlanta who are contributing capital, expertise, time and resources. Georgia-Pacific has committed $1.5 million to the fund, which is worth a total of $15 million.

How can the private sector best engage with the community in Atlanta?

Anything that we or other companies can do to give back and contribute to the well-being of our community is imperative – strong communities make life better for everyone. Georgia-Pacific has been a longtime supporter of initiatives that address critical areas such as affordable housing, community and public safety, arts and culture, and youth enrichment. Just a few of the worthy organizations we support that work tirelessly in these endeavors include the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, Youth Entrepreneurs and United Way of Greater Atlanta. In our 35 years in this city, we’ve seen many positive transformations right outside our windows at Georgia-Pacific Center. We’re proud to have been actively involved in Atlanta’s progress over the years. The city is experiencing a renaissance, with growth in areas such as the educational sector and the BeltLine, but progress will need to be supported and sustained. As a company, we are also excited by positive growth in the business community and efforts to attract entrepreneurs and startups to the city. While we have a lot of work to do on areas like public transportation and more affordable housing options, we remain optimistic and committed to keeping Atlanta the top international city that it is.

Find out more information about Georgia-Pacific at www.gp.com