By: Sara Warden
2 min read November 2020 — Ranked by Forbes as the 13th-best place in the country for business and careers in 2019, Atlanta has enjoyed steady job growth of around 2.2% per year and is a hub for major industries such as financial services, technology and telecommunications. The attractiveness of Atlanta as a business destination can be attributed, in part, to organizations such as the Atlanta Regional Commission, Invest Atlanta, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Atlanta has never struggled to attract major industries and multinational companies. Despite obvious challenges, 2020 was no exception. This month alone, Amazon announced it would expand its existing Atlanta warehouse operations with the purchase of a 20-acre property in Doraville, at a price tag of $23.4 million. This is the fourth such opening in the greater Atlanta area this year for the delivery giant. And in the same month, Microsoft announced it was finalizing plans for a data center near Atlanta, which is expected to generate an economic impact of $643 million over 10 years.
According to Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, companies continue to invest in the area, even in the midst of a global pandemic, because of the region’s business-friendly stance. “Thanks to Georgia’s approach to business during COVID-19, we still saw 72 new projects, over 7,800 new jobs announced and $2 billion in investments to date,” he told Focus: Atlanta. “Companies still recognize the need for long-term plans as we come out of lockdown. They continue to invest looking toward the future.”
But as businesses flood to the area, support is needed from government and non-governmental organizations such as Invest Atlanta, which last year facilitated the creation of 8,685 jobs, representing new capital for the city to the tune of $1 billion. The organization has adopted a multi-pronged strategy that takes into account the entire ecosystem around big businesses, including SME growth and affordable housing for workers.
“Last year, Invest Atlanta provided financing for more than 735 new affordable housing units throughout the city,” said Eloisa Klementich, CEO of Invest Atlanta. “We continue to expand our small business program, including $1.3 million in new loans last year. From job creation to affordable housing to small-business development, Invest Atlanta programs made a $2.2 billion total economic impact on the city last year.”
According to Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the aim is to have well-thought-out, sustainable growth that not only focuses on the Atlanta metro area but also allows the surrounding areas to provide services that demonstrate their strengths. “The second-tier markets attracted a large portion of the manufacturing relocations, while Atlanta is the ideal location for innovation centers and HQs,” he said. “Georgia’s economy is extremely diverse, and that is paying off by attracting a wide variety of businesses to the state. We are optimistic that we can maintain this level of economic development.”
As the region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be the infrastructure investments that will help it pull through as a stronger economy and enable it to continue attracting more companies, says A.J. Robinson, president of Atlanta Progress. “Our solid infrastructure and great Downtown, the BeltLine, among other factors, will serve as the bedrock for our recovery.”