25 Jan 2013
European businesses looking to locate offices and facilities in the US should start their site search with three key criteria. The ability to quickly deliver and distribute products and services across most of the country from a central location; a technology infrastructure capable of serving advanced business and industry needs while growing as tech needs evolve; and a trained workforce expert in logistics, research, technology and manufacturing.
One American location fits that criteria perfectly, with world-class air, highway, ports and rail systems, universities and research institutions, highly trained workforce and cutting-edge technology – Fulton County, Georgia, home to Metro Atlanta, the ‘Jewel of the South.’
The top-tier companies generate more than $25bn in revenue
Fulton County and the greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area is a leader in tech-driven economic development, housing a robust technology infrastructure. The Fulton County Economic Development Division’s (FCEDD) approach to tech-driven economic development is to enable and support the development of nascent technology created through its many institutions and research labs, as well as recruitment of high-tech businesses and retention of businesses that drive the technology industry. This strategy, combined with an appreciation for global markets, foreign direct investment and the exporting of knowledge and technology through partnerships and alliances, is designed to foster a vibrant economy for businesses. The FCEDD also partners with local organisations, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to ensure that the County is poised to deliver on your investment and business needs.
Research and technology
A highly supportive and functioning technology ecosystem facilitates a healthy high-tech industry throughout the county. Fulton County’s high-tech industry ecosystem consists of researchers, technology professionals, entrepreneurs, service providers and colleges and universities offering technology programmes. To ensure the success of all businesses, the area has created one of America’s largest broadband cable networks and data centre concentrations for cloud and networking systems.
Within the county, there are research institutions and labs that develop technology to drive and support the major technology sectors. The Georgia Institute of Technology was ranked ninth in the world for top engineering and technology universities. It is home to the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Advanced Technology Development Centre (ATDC) and Venture Lab which are resources for faculty, staff and students to create start-ups based on innovations and technology developed in-house.
Fulton County is home to two Fortune 500 and four Fortune 1000 technology companies, with more than 13,000 tech companies within its geographic footprint. The top-tier companies generate more than $25bn in revenue. Employees of these companies bring a wealth of knowledge covering a variety of functional areas from information technology to marketing. Additionally, many companies are finding niche markets and creating innovative solutions to support their industries. For example, Newell Rubbermaid, a leading consumer goods company, won the Most Innovative Company Award from Consumer Goods Technology Magazine because of its product and process innovations during 2010–2011.
The county boasts several institutions that are singularly focused on creating environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources such as batteries, biomass and biofuels. Biomass is considered one of the most efficient methods to produce this energy through the fast-growing cycle of some tree species and the short production life needed to create the energy source. Georgia’s forestry industry, coupled with the technology companies and institutions in Fulton County, along with one of the largest distribution networks in the US, create an opportunity for businesses to help many countries reach their renewable energy production goals.
MCX Environmental Energy Corp. (MCX), a company based in the county, is looking at different ways to leverage and repackage renewable energy systems. Sharrieff Mustakeem, President and CEO of MCX said: “Energy and infrastructure in the 21st century will be based on a distributive model. Just like what has transpired with our computers and phones being smaller and more efficient, energy generation and water treatment will follow that path towards micro-efficiency. As a result, we will see the emergence of stand-alone power generation and micro-grids emerge as the preferred infrastructure system for new development.”
Fulton County is home to several global ePayment companies employing more than 40,000 workers. Companies like First Data and Global Payments are creating innovative products, systems and networks, exporting them across the globe. Global Payments generates about half of its sales from 26 countries. First Data processes about 50 percent of all US based transactions and provides innovative products throughout European markets.
These companies are expanding their markets beyond traditional payment ideas to integrate mobile and contactless solutions and products that complement everyday life. This new approach will create a lower cost for retailers and users of electronic payment systems. Through strategic partnerships and alliances, these companies are constantly expanding their reach by incorporating efficient backend processes that reduce costs, processing time and infrastructural requirements. This includes leveraging mobile networks to improve service delivery and reach potential consumers that are limited by geographical, economic and energy challenges.
With changes in Georgian legislature allowing payment companies to eliminate the middleman – in other words banks – the industry is getting more competitive and creative.
The IT sector
The county’s information technology ecosystem consists of a wide variety of providers and users. The county boasts a strong infrastructure for IT development and design and a robust audience of users. From Fortune 500 companies designated as the best places to work for IT professionals, to research centres and incubation labs that are constantly building new revenue-generating systems, Fulton County has become one of the fastest-growing US IT markets. Since 2009, more than 7,000 jobs have been created in the area to support IT functions across various industries.
The IT industry sector is a major contributor to the entire technology ecosystem in Fulton County. Major corporations, such as healthcare information technology innovator, McKesson, offers IT systems and services to healthcare providers. “Healthcare providers across the globe continue to adapt to the demands of their respective markets by focusing on care quality and cost,” said Dave Souerwine, President of McKesson Provider Technologies. “Drawing on solutions and expertise across various segments of healthcare, McKesson is well positioned to help providers address these challenges. With our Better Health 2020 strategy, we support the use of information technology for better business, better care and better connectivity.” By automating processing, improving data flow and connecting a medical network, McKesson and other IT companies are creating new service delivery offerings and benefits to a wide range of customers.
Innovation and bioscience
Technology and innovation in the bioscience industry have a strong foundation in Fulton County and the Atlanta Metro area. The county is uniquely placed at the intersection point for research centres, such as the US Centre for Disease Control, innovation and technology labs, companies commercialising these products, and major non-profit organisations, such as American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, The Carter Centre, Task Force for Global Health and CARE.
The Atlanta area is one of the top 20 metros for concentration of research testing and medical laboratory equipment, with Metro Atlanta companies having generated close to $4bn in revenue. Additionally, the area university system awards more than 3,000 bioscience-related degrees annually. James Weyhenmeyer, Ph.D. and Vice President of Research and Economic Development at Georgia State University said: “Georgia has an increasingly robust pipeline in the life sciences, particularly in areas of pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, biotechnology, and diagnostics. It has been and continues to be a substantial contributor to this rapidly expanding sector of the global economy and is well positioned for future growth in areas ranging from basic biomedical discovery to translation to new market development and penetration.” With the ease of doing business, global accessibility and the ability to tap into organisations such as the Georgia Research Alliance, Fulton County provides an excellent opportunity to combat challenge of linking business to research and vice versa.
Through the county’s robust technology ecosystem and the FCEDD’s technology-based approach to development, there are numerous opportunities in everything from direct investment, strategic partnerships, to alliances with US-based companies.
Fulton County is a very special place in the south-eastern region that the world is either coming to or going through. So if you do not have a crystal ball to guide you through this challenging and uncertain 21st century global economy, remember that you will never be left behind in Fulton County because the sustainable economic development infrastructure will always keep you at least one step ahead.