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.”