Coke’s move is Cobb’s opportunity
June 15, 2013 10:06 PM | 5005 views | 3 3 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cobb business community got an unexpected shot of bad news Monday when Coca-Cola confirmed it would be moving most of its roughly 2,000 information technology workers from Wildwood Plaza off Windy Hill Road to a new IT hub in downtown Atlanta.

The move is part of the company’s consolidation of facilities following Coke’s 2010 acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ former North American operations. Coke will create an IT Center of Excellence at the SunTrust Plaza Garden Offices at Peachtree Center in Atlanta.

“By mid-2014, this center will bring together nearly 2,000 of our Atlanta-based Information Technology associates and contractors in one central location to further improve the efficiency of our operations,” said Coke spokesman Kent Landers.

The move will combine most of Coke’s IT teams now at the 3200 Wildwood building and Coke’s Atlanta Office Complex in a new office location near that complex.

So what does the move mean for Cobb?

“It’s unfortunate, but we understand that’s part of this day and age in business — having to consolidate wherever possible,” County Commission Chairman Tim Lee said. “We’re disappointed but confident that as the space becomes available we’ll be able to sell it in the not-too-distant future. We’ll work hard to replace those jobs as soon as possible.”

The good news is that Coke is not moving all of its staff out of the Wildwood Plaza building, only its IT workers. Also good is that most of those affected by the move are not losing their jobs — merely gaining a longer and less pleasant commute.

“We continue to recruit companies so this is not as big of a blow as it could be,” said Cobb Chamber of Commerce VP Brooks Mathis. “Obviously, it’s something we never want to see, but it’s why we do what we do and continue to recruit.”

We’re confident that the Chamber and the building’s owner (CBRE Global Investors) will have little trouble filling the space now occupied by Coke. After all, the Wildwood Plaza building (built in the late 1980s by Cousins Properties) features Class A office space in an upscale office tower in a striking setting atop a heavily wooded ridge. Moreover, it is just minutes from I-75 and I-285 and not much further to downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. All told, it is one of the most desirable office locations in the Southeast — and it’s in a county with a pro-business environment, excellent (in most cases) public schools and first-rate “qualify of life” amenities to boot.

In other words, there should be little or no need for Cobb to “give away the store” in terms of tax and other incentives in the effort to lure a replacement for Coke.

Businesses come and businesses go. And it’s unfortunate that a Fortune 500 corporation like Coke is moving so much of its presence downtown. But Coke’s move should be seen as Cobb’s opportunity.
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No suprise here
June 21, 2013
Cobb keeps TALKING about wanting young professionals, but Cobb keeps ACTING to the contrary: More lanes for more cars, more strip malls, more subdivisions where it's 3 miles to the nearest anything..

More of all that equals

-more retirees who don't pay school taxes.

-fewer jobs as companies move where young professionals are willing to live

Cobb just can't comprehend that young professionals require a place to live, where they WANT to live.

WHERE and HOW someone wants to live .. Those are the two biggest contributing factors when a young in-demand professional looks for a job. Why? Because there are plenty of offers with plenty of money. Cobb doesn't get that, though. Maybe we never will.
June 16, 2013
"And it’s unfortunate that a Fortune 500 corporation like Coke is moving so much of its presence downtown."

Why, pray tell? This is an exceedingly strange comment. Aren't there Fortune 500 companies in downtown Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Dallas, New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Baltimore, Tampa, Miami and pretty much every other major city? So what makes downtown Atlanta different from all those? And if Fortune 500 companies shouldn't be in downtown Atlanta, where should they be? And if Fortune 500 companies shouldn't have a large presence downtown, where should they have a large downtown presence? If the large presence is Cobb, Gwinnett or anywhere else in the metro area, you are going to rely on a largely local workforce. But in downtown Atlanta, thanks to the central location and access to public transportation, you can attract workers from all over the city. Also, proximity to Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Emory etc. will allow Coca-Cola to draw from the best pool of local IT talent in the region (and possibly the southeast, if not it is #2 only to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina). That is why so many companies are moving their IT operations downtown, and why there are so many IT startups there. When the city completes their broadband initiative (part of the Beltline) it will accelerate it even further.

It was just a strange comment that totally ignores the facts that most 500 companies locate downtown and the reason why downtown Atlanta is becoming an emerging IT powerhouse (the same reasons why it was a powerhouse in the 90s before the bubble burst). Seriously, stuff like good public schools and pro-business environment and accessibility to the (extremely clogged) I-75 and I-285 are things that middle managers in their 40s care about, and that is what the Cobb County labor pool mostly consists of. Your cutting edge IT talent is going to be single, in their 20s and lives in apartments where there will be social/nightlife options and more people like them. Those are the types driving the tech industry, and they move to places like Cobb when their skills are no longer cutting edge and they want to settle down and start managing their retirement portfolios.

Attracting the best IT jobs is about having the best IT workers, and Georgia Tech/Georgia State/Emory produces them by the truckloads. The only issue is that the talent that those schools produce generally leaves the state to places where the cutting edge IT is being done. Putting operations like this downtown keeps them in state, and that is good for the regional and state economy. And yes, that is good for Cobb too, if only because Cobb is where these folks will buy homes and move to when they move up from technology to middle management in 20 years.
June 21, 2013
Middle management is not a move UP
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