By Guest Columnist MIKE MAYORAS, CEO of RedPrairie, a global supply chain and retail technology provider based in Alpharetta
In a recent column, Tino Mantella, the president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), provided some thoughtful insight on steps Georgia should take to make the rest of the country and world aware of Georgia’s dynamic and growing business environment.
He challenged us to share what we value about working and conducting business in Georgia, so that companies and professionals around the world would have a better understanding of what Georgia can offer.
In that spirit, here are a few reasons that I personally, and RedPrairie, the company I work for, appreciate the opportunity to be based in this market.
RedPrairie, based in Alpharetta, is a global supply chain and retail technology provider, with 2,225 employees worldwide working with companies in 50 countries. Our business, even though it is focused on putting commerce in motion, actually starts with people, not product.
And in my opinion, the metropolitan Atlanta area and the State of Georgia have one of the most vibrant business, technology and logistics communities in the country today – all because of the great people in our government, business, academic and professional organizations.
With the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University and the University of Georgia all nearby, companies have access to some of the brightest business, technology and academic minds in the United States, if not the world.
For instance, the Georgia Tech Supply Chain and Logistics Institute, which has been a leader in the industry for 60 years, is the world’s largest supply chain and logistics research and enterprise organization. Through the Leaders in Logistics program, it partners member companies with Georgia Tech faculty and graduate students to conduct research on critical logistics issues.
Not a week goes by when business, IT and logistics professionals in this area aren’t attending dynamic networking events that can help them with their business, professional or even personal development challenges.
Professional organizations such as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Technology Association of Georgia (one of the largest state technology industry groups in the nation), the Georgia Logistics Association, Women in Technology and the Society for Information Management are all great forums.
At these events, industry leaders are exchanging insights on the dynamic business and IT trends that are driving innovation – not just here in Atlanta or in the United States, but throughout the world. And they are building strong connections among their membership to help businesses find local partners who can help each other grow.
The State of Georgia and local governments have also been focused for quite some time on attracting and retaining some of the most well-known companies in their respective industries.
RedPrairie was attracted to Alpharetta because of the strong commitment of government leaders at all levels to align legislative priorities with the goals of the business community, which in turn also benefits job seekers and taxpayers. Since moving RedPrairie’s headquarters to Alpharetta, we have not been disappointed.
The result has been a fantastic, business-friendly environment for RedPrairie in a world-class metropolitan area. It has been obvious to us that local and state authorities value the return on investment they realize from companies like RedPrairie who choose to do business in Georgia, while helping to drive commerce around the globe.
Atlanta’s Worldwide Web
As stated above, if RedPrairie’s mission is to put commerce in motion around the world, obviously a strong transportation infrastructure is an important component to RedPrairie and its customers.
Yes, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is one of the world’s largest passenger terminals, providing a great international hub for business travel.
But it is also the crown jewel of global cargo connections as well. Its three air cargo complexes have more than 2 million square feet of warehouse space, and each complex provides dockside access to I-75, I-85, I-285 and I-20.
Think about this – according to the airport’s website, more than 200 million people, or 80 percent of U.S. consumers, are within two hours flight time from the airport or a one-day truck trip! That makes Atlanta, with Hartsfield-Jackson and its web of interstates spreading out in all directions, an ideal location for any business targeting consumers in the United States.
In fact, more than 100 motor carriers do business at the airport to provide ground transportation for arriving air cargo shipments. This industry even has its own local association, the Atlanta Air Cargo Association, a forum where members “exchange views, ideas and information to keep them informed of trends and developments in the field of air cargo transportation.”
Let’s talk global. Next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone #26, which helps increase the global competitiveness of Georgia businesses by reducing operating costs associated with international trade. The airport has more than 100 licensed customs brokers and 200 domestic and international freight forwarders committed to helping make the experience of doing business globally a breeze.
As TAG‘s Tino Mantella so eloquently pointed out, Georgia and the greater metropolitan Atlanta area – just like any other region – face significant challenges to continue to sustain its status as a great place to conduct business. This is especially true when it comes to the need for a well-designed strategic plan that puts Georgia on the leading edge of science and technology.
But as a relative newcomer to town – and one who works in global markets – let me assure you that Georgia does indeed have a great reputation around the nation and the world for being business-friendly.
Yes, we need to continue to promote Georgia’s positives for business. But the message is being heard loud and clear, as evidenced by the recent moves here of NCR and First Data that Tino mentioned in his column.
My perspective is that the government agencies, business community, professional organizations and academic institutions in this great state are all strongly committed to sustaining and expanding our area’s excellent business-friendly reputation through many of the initiatives Tino outlined. It’s one of the biggest reasons why we chose to do business here. And that’s why Georgia is a great place for our business.
Mike Mayoras, CEO of RedPrairie serves on the board of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Mayoras moved to Georgia in 2010.