Chip Harp, Valdosta Today Editor:
ATLANTA — The inventor of the automobile is considering Atlanta as the site for a new US headquarters location, according to a report in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Mercedes-Benz, the German automotive giant currently based in Montvale, NJ, is looking at relocating 800 positions, responsible for marketing, distribution and customer service, from the 141,000 square foot space it currently holds to Atlanta, where many in the auto industry are finding a better business climate. There are further rumors of moving other IT operations related to Alpharetta.
Porsche, who has for some time been headquartered in Sandy Springs, has under construction a new $100 million development on 26 acres in Hapeville called Aerotopolis, on the site of the former Ford automotive plant. Porsche is building a 150,000 square foot office tower and test track on the site just off Interstate 75 south of Atlanta.
Both firms like the business climate in Georgia, especially the convenience of Hartsfield International Airport. The ports in Savannah and Brunswick are already used by Mercedes to both import cars to the US and export cars and SUV’s manufactured at its Tuscaloosa, AL plant all over the world.
Further, Atlanta is a top East Coast market for Mercedes, who would likely also bring other support jobs, now spread around the country, into a consolidated Atlanta campus.
But these German companies aren’t the only ones who have seen the benefits of southern auto production and technology. Nissan, Toyota, Kia, Volkswagen and BMW all have plants in the south, in addition to the Alabama Mercedes plant. Atlanta has a reputation as a good source for highly-skilled tech workers, lower cost labor, and global transportation hubs in a business-friendly environment.
New Jersey is likely to fight to the last any move, especially a high-profile resident like Mercedes-Benz. New Jersey has a Grow NJ Assistance Program which provides very attractive incentives for businesses to locate and stay in New Jersey.