Atlanta-area economic developers couldn’t have drawn up a project that blends more optimally the sectors they’re trying to promote.
In another win for Atlanta’s “aerotropolis” region and the city’s broader automotive cluster, German luxury auto maker BMW announced that it would put a training center in the city College Park, adjacent to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
College Park, which sits in the airport’s ever-encroaching shadows and pitches itself as “Georgia’s global city,” sold a 4.1-acre plot to BMW for a facility that will require a new $16.6 million investment that will create 12 jobs when it becomes operational in late 2018. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, local officials believe it will draw in as many as 10,000 BMW dealership workers for training each year.
While not as big of an investment, the move echoes two other German automakers’ recent transactions in the area.
Like Porsche, which closed up shop at the Perimeter area when it built its North American headquarters and the Porsche Experience Center in Hapeville, BMW is moving a center once located in Sandy Springs to a brand new building closer to the airport.
The new 53,000 square-foot BMW center is four times larger than its current Sandy Springs training facility, according to to the company.
One difference: BMW is keeping its Southern Region headquarters at the current address: 1280 Hightower Trail:
The new space will have the advantage of a direct connection to the airport terminal, as it’s on the grounds of the Georgia International Convention Center. The ATL SkyTrain runs across Interstate 85, connecting that development, its adjacent hotels and the rental car center with the airport.
Development at the airport is already creeping that way, with a new InterContinental Hotel going in as part of the “Airport City” development just west of the North and South domestic terminals.
Again, while not nearly as significant, BMW’s move also contains some surface similarities with rival Mercedes-Benz’s high-profile relocation to Georgia.
Just like Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s USA group happens to be headquartered in New Jersey, and it has a factory in a neighboring state. (Mercedes-Benz makes vans in Alabama, while BMW operates a massive plant that has invested $9 billion overall in Spartanburg, S.C.)
No word on whether Atlanta is now trying to woo the larger BMW base down from the Northeast, but Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said the move does highlight the state’s role in the auto sector.
“BMW’s strategic investments in the southeast put them at the epicenter of connectivity and surrounds them with many automotive suppliers. Congratulations to College Park on this great win,” Mr. Wilson said in a news release.