The Year in Review: Economic Development in Metro Atlanta in 2019
By Gregg Simon, Senior Vice President of Economic Development, Metro Atlanta Chamber
As we move forward into a new decade, it is a perfect time to reflect on the economic state of metro Atlanta. Our region continued to enjoy significant economic growth in 2019 across our 29-county metro, across multiple industries. Before highlighting success stories, I want to emphasize the spirit of collaboration in economic development in our region. I recently attended a meeting with a business and their consultant as they visited Atlanta to evaluate our region against others for a new operation. A senior official from another organization explained to the visitors that economic development is a partnership in Georgia: when you speak to one of our organizations you speak to all of us. As someone who has promoted this collaboration for years, that comment was music to my ears.
The strong partnership between the Georgia Department of Economic Development, utilities, local chambers, governments and development authorities, universities, the private sector and the Metro Atlanta Chamber is a strong team that continues to drive success. Layer onto this tactic partnership regional efforts including the Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership and the Regional Market Alliance of the Atlanta Regional Commission and we are fortunate to be a region rich in economic development resources.
A key economic driver for our region continues to be our significant population growth. Consider that our regional population is around six million people, making metro Atlanta the ninth-largest metro in the U.S. From 2017 to 2018, the population of the Atlanta MSA (29 counties) increased by an estimated 75,702 people, ranking fourth metro area in the nation for numeric increase in population. The Atlanta Regional Commission forecasts the 20-county Atlanta region will add 2.5 million more people by 2040, bringing the population to more than 8 million.
This population growth has led to an influx of businesses and investment in our region. Notable projects announced in 2019 include:
- CarMax – This Richmond, Virginia-based automotive company selected a building in Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County for a 300+ person customer experience center.
- Chick fil-A – Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A decided to build its first company-owned distribution facility in Cartersville in Bartow County. The facility will employ over 300 people.
- Invesco – The Atlanta-based financial services leader that acquired Oppenheimer Fund is moving 500 jobs to Atlanta and recently broke ground on a new 300,000 square foot headquarters in Midtown Atlanta.
- Stitch Fix – A San Francisco-based e-commerce apparel company that offers online personal style assistance selected Lithia Springs in Douglas County for a 900-person distribution facility.
These four projects are a sampling of the 83 companies that selected Metro Atlanta in 2019 for new or expanded operations that will employ more than 11,000 people over the next few years.
In addition to the businesses selecting Atlanta for new or expanded facilities, real estate developers are partnering with communities across the region to create new residential, retail and office communities. A sampling of notable projects under construction or planned now include: Centennial Yards in the City of Atlanta, Halcyon in Forsyth County, the Mill on Etowah in Cherokee County, Pinewood Forest in Fayette County.
- Halcyon in Forsyth County is a 135-acre mixed use development that includes retail, residential and office space. The project features 250,000 square feet of office space that is already almost entirely leased before delivery.
- The Mill on Etowah in the City of Canton in Cherokee County recently received the Deal of the Year award from the Georgia Economic Developers Association and the Regional Redevelopment of the Year at the Metro Atlanta Redevelopment Summit. A former denim factory, the property is being redeveloped plus and additional 350,000 square feet into apartments, retail and office.
- Pinewood Forest in Fayette County is a new community for the creative class. Across the street from Pinewood Studios, the development under construction calls for 1,300 residences, along with a movie theater, a fitness center, pocket parks – and an entire town center.
These developments demonstrate the strong investment in our region. We see continued growth in industry sectors such as logistics, digital health technology, cybersecurity, digital media, financial services/technology, software, smart cities/mobile technology and manufacturing. Layer in our 292,000 enrolled college students, world’s busiest and most-efficient airport, large concentration of headquarters of global brands, and a region that embraces diversity – you have the ingredients for continued growth.
In summary, 2019 has been another great year for Metro Atlanta’s economy. Thank you to our statewide, utility, local chamber, local government and development authority, university, and private sector partners.