After Mercedes Benz announced its plans to relocate from Montvale, New Jersey to Atlanta two weeks ago, the speculation began for the reason why. In the end, it appears that the move, which will bring more than 800 jobs to north Fulton County, came as a result of incentives offered the company and metro Atlanta’s location and proximity to Mercedes’ business and business partners.
Let’s start with incentives. According to the Detroit News, the total incentive package offered by the Georgia Department of Economic development amounted to $24,540 per job, or $23.3 million. That number assumes 950 new jobs, slightly more than the initial workforce Mercedes is expected to bring, but certainly within reason. The incentives offered do not include anything from Fulton County, so the total offered may actually be higher, with some sources claiming a number between $40 and $50 million.
But, incentives aren’t everything. That brings us to location. Georgia is already home to Kia in West Point, and the Port of Brunswick, a key transshipment location for vehicles between the U.S. and overseas. Mercedes has a plant a few hours away in Alabama. And Hartsfield-Jackson Airport offers direct flights to and from Stuttgart, the company’s German home.
Another reason is the concentration of automotive suppliers in metro Atlanta, according to Autoblog:
Increasingly, Atlanta has emerged as the capital of this automotive region. Croteau says there are approximately 250 auto-related companies that operate in its vicinity that employ more than 20,000 people and the Center for Automotive Research says Georgia overall has more than 70,000 auto-related jobs throughout the state. Beyond the big names of GM, Porsche and now Mercedes-Benz, it’s suppliers that make up the bulk of the operations.
“We’ve seen tremendous activity from suppliers,” [Tom Croteau, deputy commissioner of global commerce for the Georgia Department of Economic Development] said. “When we look at our portfolio of projects that are active and moving, it’s sometime as high as 40 percent that are coming out of the auto industry or related in some way. Maybe it’s a company that’s both autos and aerospace or a plastics company, but it’s a remarkably high percentage over the past year-and-a-half or two years. So right now, the automotive industry is paramount to us, and we’re paying more attention than ever.”
The Center for Automotive Research study cited in the quote cites Georgia’s workforce development training programs and the alignment of training programs with the needs of employers as a reason so many automotive suppliers are located in the metro Atlanta area.
For Mercedes’ employees, the headquarters location, expected to be in the Sandy Springs area of North Fulton County, offers its own amenities. According to Autoblog, younger employees can live in Atlanta, while those wishing to raise a family can live outside the Perimeter. And, as the graphic from NorthJersey.com points out, the cost of living in Fulton is much lower than that of Bergen County, Mercedes’ former home.
One must wonder, however, if the editors at Autoblog were highlighting a potential issue with moving to the Peach State when they included this picture in their story. It’s the “Walking Dead” view of downtown Atlanta seen as you approach the city on Freedom Parkway at the Jackson Street bridge, apparently taken during last year’s snowmageddon.