By Chris Cummiskey
Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development
A state’s economic development team is only as powerful as its partners are strong. In Georgia, we are fortunate to have superb partners in every part of the state without whom our work would not be nearly so effective or rewarding.
Alpharetta is among those. Like many cities in Georgia, Alpharetta has intrinsic assets for business that ensure its competitiveness: easy access to major interstates and highways, proximity to a major airport, a deep pool of talent, and reliable utility service.
But what sets a community apart is how it chooses to cultivate its economy. And Alpharetta has made great decisions that are setting its growth on the path to success. The city has put in place business-friendly policies that attract the interest of companies like Red Prairie, McKesson and Verizon. It has also fostered amenities like Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, upscale hotels, numerous festivals and sporting events that contribute to its quality of life and make leisure time truly “Awesome” in Alpharetta.
Our department has had the privilege of working with the city’s economic development professionals on a number of activities, including successful locations or expansions by some of the companies mentioned above and by others such as ThyssenKrupp, ADP, Exide and Hi-Rez Studios. Over the last five years, we have collaborated on dozens of projects that have brought more than 3,600 jobs and almost $560 million in investment to the community. We’ve helped companies like Grayling Industries and many more find international trade partners to generate sales and growth.
Recently the city has taken significant steps to build on its success. Its aggressive economic development initiative, Progress Partners of North Fulton Atlanta, is the kind of farsighted strategy essential to attracting investment and driving results these days. And the city’s participation in the North Fulton Community Improvement District (CID) is leading to great transportation and infrastructure enhancements. Companies think regionally more than they do locally, so they see joint partnerships like this as competitive assets to a community and region.
The new Alpharetta Technology Commission (ATC) and the city’s drive to rebrand itself is an excellent way to leverage its fiber optic strengths and existing critical mass of technology-oriented industry, including its strong healthcare community.
By qualifying for the state’s Camera-Ready designation, Alpharetta and North Fulton are paving the film industry’s way to their streets, facilitating the kind of access needed for movies like The Change Up, The Joneses, and the soon-to-be released Billy Crystal feature Parental Guidance, all recently filmed in the community.
The city’s dynamic economic development leadership team, including Mayor David Belle Isle, the City’s new Director of Economic Development Peter Tokar, Al Nash and Sarah LaDart at Progress Partners, Assistant City Manager James Drinkard, and many others are the kind of visionary movers and shakers that every community needs.
Last but not least, Alpharetta has proactively moved to put a solid incentive package in place for prospective companies, streamlining not only the cost but the efficiency of the inspection and permitting process.
Alpharetta is a well-established success story in the state, and has responded to the changing economic times by not resting on its laurels, which is why we constantly have companies interested in looking at, or expanding in, Alpharetta. This is a city whose continued success lies in the minds and hearts and actions of those who care about it. Fortunately for the city, and for the state, those people are many. And we are proud to support them.