One Reason Companies (and People) Relocate

A Fortune 500-to-be company recently decided to move its headquarters to Sandy Springs from Gwinnett County because of the availability of transit. Veritiv is a new company formed by a merger between an International Paper spinoff and Norcross based Unisource. It distributes paper goods and packaging, at a volume that makes it likely to enter the Fortune 500 when the index is updated in the spring.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle tells the tale of why the company chose to relocate to Northpark Town Center:

Northpark is one of the large Perimeter office developments built next to MARTA. That proved to be a difference maker for Veritiv, whose employees travel across the country and wanted transit access from the Perimeter to Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Veritiv will move 125 to 150 executives and corporate support personnel to Sandy Springs by as early as next spring.

It’s not the first time a major company has chosen to locate next to transit. An economic development official we spoke with could recall at least three other major companies that decided not to relocate to his county because of the lack of transit options.

Companies aren’t the only ones that look at the availability of transit when deciding where to locate. Increasingly, Millennials are ditching their automobiles for trains and public transportation.

When asked about transportation options, such as public transportation, car- and bike-sharing services, and pedestrian friendly streets, 80% of Millennials say it’s important to have a wide range of options, and over half of Millennials surveyed (54%) would consider moving to another city if it offered a wider, better range of options for getting around.

“These findings confirm what we have heard from the business and elected leaders we work with across the country,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “The talented young workforce that every region is trying to recruit expects to live in places where they can find walkable neighborhoods with convenient access to public transportation. Providing those travel and living options will be the key to future economic success.”

Last Friday, Charlie and I did our weekly Peach Pundit Radio broadcast on WGST from Alpharetta’s Avalon. It’s a live-work-play community just off of Georgia 400 at Old Milton Parkway. We were joined by Peach Pundit intern Will Kremer, who admitted he would very much like to live there — if it had transit that would offer reliable connectivity to downtown.

A sluggish economy and a lack of jobs is one of the top concerns people have when they are asked which issues are most important to them. In the 21st century, companies are required to move to where the workforce they want to employ lives. In many cases, the desired workforce is young and well-educated. And right now, Atlanta doesn’t appear to be one of the cities in which many of these millennials choose to live.

29 comments

  1. Jon Lester says:

    This has been my attitude for decades, that if I had to live in or around Atlanta at all, I’d want to be near a MARTA station, because otherwise, life in the area would quickly become an unhealthy experience.

  2. gcp says:

    A rational decision by Veritiv and it didn’t cost taxpayers anything; we did not have to build a billion dollar intersection, didn’t need useless consultants, planners, bureaucrats or politicians.

    • georgiahack says:

      Yes, but that business decision was made possible by a lot of “useless consultants, planners, bureaucrats or politicians” that made decision a long time ago to invest in transportation.

      • gcp says:

        And they would love to “invest” billions more; just ask them. But let me add one more group; contractors.

        BTW, there are things we could do that would not cost much. On northside we got Gwinnett Transit on one side, Cobb transit on the other side and Marta (Fulton and Dekalb) in the middle. A little coordination between these three to facilitate east/west travel would help.

        There are many other relatively inexpensive things we could do but some folks just can’t resist that billion dollar remake of the 285/400 intersection.

        • Jon Richards says:

          gcp, the issue of coordination between MARTA, GCT and CCT is one issue that’s been addressed in the last session of the legislature. Senator Brandon Beach got a committment from the three agencies (plus GRTA) to develop a single website where someone could plan a trip that involves potentially all four agencies.

          The real problem is, as the Senator demonstrated, that it takes about four hours to get from Marietta to Gwinnett using the existing transit system. Realistically, no one will put up with that … they will drive instead.

          And yes, you could develop some sort of transit line that would go from Kennesaw down I-75 to 285 then east to I-85 and back up to the Sugarloaf Mills mall. But it wouldn’t run any faster (and in fact would likely run slower) than driving a car, especially if you were to create multiple stops along the way to accommodate people getting on and off at employment centers. And, it would cost additional money to pay to operate the bus.

          It works for express buses to downtown because you have the MARTA rail system to take workers to close to their destination, but that doesn’t exist in Gwinnett or Cobb,

          So, the fix you propose would actually cost a lot more than it would appear to be on the surface.

          • gcp says:

            Did they look at using new dedicated, direct east/west routes by GCT, Marta and CCT or did they look at only using current routes?

            As for 285, 85 and the other main routes we need dedicated bus lanes, a few more buses; not hov or toll lanes. Would be much cheaper than some of the other ideas.

            Also its time to quit worrying about long distance commuters and concentrate on commuters that live closer-in. If you want to live far from your work, that’s fine but don’t expect taxpayers to subsidize it.

  3. saltycracker says:

    This is a story of going from the airport to a commercial work center. A planned express train from Northpoint/Avalon to the airport for $10-$15 in conjunction with some 4 lane access roads would improve my opinion.

    • Harry says:

      Express trains are what’s needed to improve Marta. An express train can be timed to run behind and “catch up” with the slow train.

        • gt7348b says:

          Simply put – express trains are not really an option for MARTA without significant investment in signaling and other upgrades. If MARTA would post their board committee packages online, then I could link to a presentation showing what it would take to for the upgrades given sometime last spring.

          • saltycracker says:

            yeah …I was dreamin….it would also require adequate inexpensive overnight or weekly parking….

      • Jon Richards says:

        Um, Harry, remember this? It was a warning from Charlie not to comment on any transportation posts for two weeks. And by my count, that two weeks isn’t up yet. We really don’t want to ban you, but …

        So for the moment, we’ll just reset Charlie’s clock two weeks ahead, saying you can’t post on transportation issues until the 22nd. Consider this a second chance.

        • Harry says:

          Go ahead and ban me. This matter being discussed above has nothing to do with contemplated transportation tax, which was the issue you folks didn’t want to discuss and which ruffled you feathers. Quit being such a super a******. Quit with the censorship.

  4. joe says:

    Then, of course, the government does it the other way. They moved a 4 star Army headquarters from McPherson to Bragg. At Bragg, after a long drive to the airport, it is only a short hop to get to Hartsfield-Jackson, and from there you can go anywhere. I guess that is what happens when you are spending taxpayer money.

  5. jh says:

    I work in Midtown now, living in Sandy Springs. 30 minute morning commute (15 minute drive to Marta then 15 minute train ride).

    Wouldn’t be able to accept driving from Midtown to Duluth everyday like a lot of the older generation. There is a lot of new hires at our firm that are choosing marta. And I know lots of sports goers used to use the train (sadly a team moved to Cobb).

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Not to worry. New transit to Suntrust Stadium is but a delayed Tim Lee gift to the out-of-state billionaire owner of the Braves.

  6. S. Lee Guy says:

    I’d be curious to know if your intern could realistically afford the rent at Avalon which I’ve heard ranges from $1,750 to $5,000 per month.

    Millennials want to live there, but can they afford it?

  7. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    I’d give anything for a train into north Cherokee County. I’d take it every day (I live in Pickens). The way it is now, I can drive 58 miles from home to my office Downtown, or I can drive 50+ miles to the North Springs station to take the train the rest of the way.

    • zedsmith says:

      I humbly and with love submit that its a bad idea to choose to live so far away from where you work. :-/

      • TheEiger says:

        You have to love the people that made the conscious decision to live in the suburbs or out in the middle of nowhere and then ask the taxpayers to make their commute better by building an expensive train that takes you from where you don’t want to be to be to where you don’t want to go. Great idea. Couple of options. Move your practice to Cherokee, move to inside the perimeter, retire or quit complaining about your commute. All are legitimate alternatives to a couple hundred million dollar train to be paid for by taxpayers.

        • Will Durant says:

          You also have to love the people with no kids or are wealthy enough to afford Pace Academy who always sling this same sanctimonious sentiment every time this subject come up.

          • TheEiger says:

            Say what you want about me, but my wife and I made the decision to live where we do in North Fulton so that we wouldn’t have to send our kids to Pace. My wife works downtown and drives 400 twice everyday, but we decided living where we do and commuting was best for us. We also aren’t asking for you to pay to make our commute easier. That’s the problem with you liberals. You want to make your own decisions on how you live your lives, but want others to pay for your decisions.

            • Will Durant says:

              Didn’t say that about you in particular but meant it more for the guy identifying himself as a millennial above as this argument arises nearly every time regarding sprawl in Atlanta. I don’t personally commute anymore but the school situation inside the perimeter has been an issue prior to the birth of my kids and still has never been properly addressed. I’m not looking for you or anybody else to pay me or mine a damn thing. I am fiscally responsible and believe in paying as you go, both for myself personally and my government. The fact that Texas has more than triple the road bonds as Georgia is seldom touted by those pointing out that their motor fuel tax is cheaper.

        • saltycracker says:

          The job growth is OTP for skilled workers as that is where the desired family lifestyles/public schools are and where businesses are relocating to. Millennials like Brookhaven until they hook up and have a kid then it is off to Cobb, north Fulton, Forsyth or Cherokee. With or without MARTA.

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