Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed are working side-by-side

By Maria Saporta

They were sitting side-by-side at Thursday morning’s official announcement that Porsche would locate its new U.S. headquarters at Aerotropolis Atlanta near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

In a media advisory, Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed had called a joint press conference in the North Wing Rotunda of the Georgia State Capitol to make “a major announcement on economic development and job creation.”

For people in economic development circles, they couldn’t remember the last time that the governor of Georgia and the mayor of Atlanta had stood side-by-side to make such an announcement.

In fact, as best folks could remember, such a joint appearance may have dated back to when Atlanta was hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

At the time, there were some formal events that brought then-Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and then-Gov. Zell Miller together. But there certainly was not a great spirit of cooperation and collaboration that existed between the two elected officials.

But both Deal and Reed said that the two governments ability to collaborate was critical in Georgia and Atlanta attracting an increased commitment from Porsche.

“We wouldn’t have gotten this done without us working together,” Reed said after the press conference. “There was strong coordination between the state and the city. We both stepped up to the table repeatedly.”

According to Detlev von Platen, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, the competition for the U.S. headquarters was fierce with many cities and states vying for the project.

“The choice was not easy,” von Platen said. “We had very, very aggressive and attractive offers from other states.”

Porsche had decided to consolidate its U.S. operations in one location. Porsche Cars North America already had its U.S. base in Sandy Springs for the past 13 years. But the new headquarters will have a Technical Service and Training Center; a Customer Experience center complete with a 1.6 mile road course; as well as Porsche Financial Services and Porsche Business Services, which currently are located in Lisle, Illinois.

“The mayor and I have already decided we need to christen that 1.6 mile test track,” a smiling Gov. Deal told the people attending the press conference. “We need to get out of our big SUVs and get into something more sporty.”

Throughout the press conference, it was obvious that Reed, a former state legislator, felt right at home sitting in the Capitol rotunda in between the governor and House Speaker David Ralston.

When Deal was told before the event that it had been a long time since the governor and the mayor had held a joint press conference, the governor quickly responded: “We intend for this not to be the last.”

Reed’s response echoed the governor’s.

“This is the future for Atlanta and the state of Georgia,” the mayor said. “If Atlanta and Georgia are going to continue to thrive and prosper, you are going to have to have a very high level of cooperation.”

And then he added with a twinkle in his eye: “We are working on a lot of things together.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

9 replies
  1. shirley says:

    This announcement is good news for the future economic health of Atlanta and the Southside. Georgia benefits too. Thank goodness for the team that has been working on this for months and months. The ride on the track will be super… super fast in typical Porshe style.Report

  2. Maria Saporta
    Maria Saporta says:

    So glad you wrote. I wasn’t sure how to work this into the story, but readers should know that the lack of a state-city relationship during your administration was not your fault. Someone once told me: “It takes two people to make a marriage, but only one to mess it up.”

  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    It’s curious that the mayor of Hapeville wasn’t in the spotlight (since the project is in Hapeville) while the mayor of Atlanta was there. Politics makes strange bedfellows.Report

  4. Maria Saporta
    Maria Saporta says:

    Actually, the mayor of Hapeville was present, and he told me that even though the property is not part of the City of Hapeville, the development will have an impact on his community. The Aerotropolis property actually is within the City of Atlanta.Report

  5. Cartographer says:

    According to maps produced by Fulton County, City of Hapeville & City of Atlanta, the Ford factory sat in Hapeville city limits, with only the parking lot between the factory and I-75 being within the Atlanta city limits.Report

  6. shirley says:

    Governor Perdue, Senator Johnson, Lt. Governor Taylor and then Senator Reed did exactly what I asked of them. They supported Atlanta’s Clean Water Program and the Municipal Option Sales Tax. I made clear to each and others including members of powerful Congressional Committees that was the city and region’s most pressing need. To gain their support for what wasn’t a popular issue or cause I committed to ask only for extraordinary state support for the water and sewer issues. Without funding for the Clean Water Program Atlanta and region were threatened with the prohibition of new sewer hook ups and the related devastating impact on economic development and a loss of jobs for what would have been a full decade including the Great Recession of 2008. Governor Perdue invited me to the announcement of his signing of the MOST legislation at a beautiful spot along the Chattahoochee River.

    That said, I’ve been driven on the Porsche test track in Germany as part of one of the Chamber’s trips to sell Atlanta in Europe in 2008. It is exciting that Atlanta will host a similar track and the glory that comes with Porsche’s move to the Southside. Cheers for all involved.Report

  7. Bill Fuller says:


    It is great to hear directly from the “shakers and movers” in Atlanta. For so long, the news has been second and third hand. I think you have an instant hit!

    Bill FullerReport


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