UPDATE: Is Alpharetta Too Far Away for New Business?

Companies are still looking at the Alpharetta area for their location, two Alpharetta-based economic development officials said today.

UPDATED 3:50 P.M. with comments from Al Nash of Progress Partners North Fulton and Peter Tokar III, Alpharetta Economic Development director.

Sandy Springs is factored into Georgia’s ranking as a top 5 place to do business, according to Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. 

Alpharetta, which was a major draw for companies 10 years ago, could be too far north for some businesses today. Cummiskey mentioned new owners of a company that bought out an Alpharetta business. “They are also bringing in 200 more jobs. Folks who might not want to go all the way to Alpharetta. They’re looking at Sandy Springs, Perimeter, Dunwoody,” he said. “Sandy Springs is in a uniquely situated position.”

Al Nash, who heads Progress Partners of North Fulton Atlanta, said today that this story wasn't a big deal. He knows the commissioner, and was sure this point was overstated.

"Companies are going to choose where they want to go for a variety of reasons. There are considerations for either business purposes or use of transportation they might choose to go to Sandy Springs. But we certainly have not seen any fall off of companies that are still interested in what we have got," Nash said.

"We've got a number of deals in the pipeline that are being worked," he said.

Companies choose sites that meet their needs for pricing or location. With little new space being built, they have to go where best meets their needs, he said.

Alpharetta's Economic Development director, Peter Tokar, agreed with Nash and added some points, saying every company has factors and variables used in picking a site.

"Commissioner Cummiskey is correct in his statement that Alpharetta may not be considered as a location for a company based on their unique requirements for selecting a site, proximity to downtown being one of them," Tokar said. "With nearly 600 technology companies alone not counting the many other businesses industries the city has, Alpharetta is a proven business destination that is rapidly expanding with growth," he said.

"Approximately 35 percent of the 'Where Georgia Leads' companies are located in Alpharetta, and while we may not carry the volume of a larger office market such as the central perimeter region, we make up for it in quality. With a daytime workforce population that more than doubles the residential population, there seems to be plenty of workers that find their way here every day," Tokar said.

Cummiskey also said the Atlanta metro area falls behind such cities as Dallas, TX and Charlotte, N. C. when it comes to competitive salaries.

The good news is businesses looking to relocate have their eye on the Sandy Springs/Perimeter area, Cummiskey said, during a talk at the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber breakfast on Monday. He brings businesses and investment to Georgia through corporations, the entertainment industry, small business and trade. Last year, the Department of Economic Development worked on 221 projects from 120 countries, he said.

“Eighty percent of projects in the pipeline right now are looking into this area…Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Perimeter,” he said. And in the last General Assembly session, discretionary incentives in the metro Atlanta area went from $5 million to $78 million.

Below: See how the film industry brings in big bucks and what's filmed in Sandy Springs.

The commissioner believes Georgia will be considered the southeastern business hub of the United States,] in the next 10 years and the Sandy Springs/Perimeter area is an integral part of it.

In growing economic development, the commissioner said a concern is how college graduates, particularly Georgia Tech students, leave the state when they complete their education.

“The goal is to keep people here. We have all these great schools and we’re here watching 45 percent of kids who graduate up and leave. The jobs are somewhere else. So we have to figure out a way to grow that younger generation of tech companies,” Cummiskey said.

While Georgia Tech grads are generally pulled away for the most lucrative opportunities, Georgia Southern University is being positioned as another prestigious engineering school. “That’s where our capacity is in our opinion.”

Georgia Film Industry

Chris Cummiskey said the economic impact of the film industry has increased from $248 million to $3.1 billion in six years.  “Coma,” “Unnecessary Roughness,” and “Vampire Diaries,” are filmed in Sandy Springs. Last year, parts of the “The Three Stooges” was also filmed in Sandy Springs.  

Jen October 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM
What is the point of this article? Read between the lines "folks who might not want to go all the way to Alpharetta", those 200 jobs are for folks who need apartments and a nearby Marta station. So, Alpharetta...build those high density residences along 400 so that you too can be Sandy Springs! Alpharetta is the victim of outsourcing of lower level jobs en masse to other cities (with cheaper labor). The answer is not building more high density in the hopes that more cheap labor will relocate here!
JAH October 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM
"We have all these great schools and we’re here watching 45 percent of kids who graduate up and leave. The jobs are somewhere else. So we have to figure out a way to grow that younger generation of tech companies,” Cummiskey said." Perhaps he needs to spend more time in "far away" Alpharetta to learn about the city's efforts to attract and retain high tech companies - infrastructure, the addition of a new technical college, and an organization that includes of cross section of high tech companies, Alpharetta officials, and education officials among those efforts.


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