The new 225,000 square foot headquarters -- shown here in a rendering -- will include a coffee shop, a cafeteria, exercise rooms and a childcare center.
Dietmar Exler and Gov. Nathan Deal, right, shake hands at the groundbreaking.
Dietmar Exler and Gov. Nathan Deal, right, shake hands at the groundbreaking.

Local politicians and economic development leaders joined Mercedes-Benz USA Monday to help break ground on a new U.S. headquarters that the German auto maker’s leaders say will be its long-term base for community partnership.

In a ceremony, MB-USA CEO Dietmar Exler praised the brand’s staff and underscored the welcome it has received in metro Atlanta.

“Now that we are here, we all know that southern hospitality is not just a phrase. It’s a way of life here in Georgia,” he said on a video of the groundbreaking.

Rusty Paul, mayor of the city of Sandy Springs, where the 225,000-square-foot complex sits, spoke highly of the friendship he has developed with Mr. Exler, while Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the metro area will continue to help business leaders feel a sense of connection here.

Officials participate in the groundbreaking.
Officials participate in the groundbreaking.

“The decision by Mercedes-Benz was an intentional one, it was a deliberate one, and after looking all around they decided to choose the metropolitan Atlanta region,” he said, thanking the car maker for giving the city yet another arrow in its investment recruitment quiver: the ability to invoke the approval of a global luxury auto brand when pitching other companies.

Similarly, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in part attributed the state’s top ranking for business to companies like Mercedes-Benz, though he joked that the benefits go both ways. Mercedes-Benz USA saw its sales increase 3.8 percent to 343,000 units after it decided last year to locate in the state.

“You see, you just can’t beat having an affiliation with the state of Georgia and the Atlanta area. It helps everybody,” Mr. Deal said.

After the pleasantries, Mr. Exler described the facility itself, outlining how its design underscores the brand’s desire to drive productivity by appealing to its largely young workforce.

“Our building was designed to support collaboration, which we believe is absolutely key to drive innovation and employee engagement. There’ll be a lot of collaboration spaces, a variety of purpose-built locations from formal meeting rooms to casual sessions for brainstorming. We call that ‘less me, more we’ space,” Mr. Exler said.

A daycare center is among the many amenities of the new headquarters.
A daycare center is among the many amenities of the new headquarters.

Hiring 500 staffers, including 200 workers moved from the former headquarters in New Jersey and 300 sourced locally, the layout will support social interaction, additionally including amenities such as an on-site cafeteria, coffee shop, fitness center and childcare facility, he said.

That last point is a core part of keeping Mercedes-Benz’s half-female workforce engaged for the long haul, Mr. Exler said.

“We hired 300 young people, 50 percent of them female. If you want to support diversity, if you want to support the career of women in that age, you must have a childcare facility — absolutely clear.”

Even the trees cleared from the 12-acre site were put to good use, having been donated to Camp Southern Ground in Peachtree City, which helps youngsters with academic or social challenges improve their lives. In keeping with sustainability goals, Mercedes-Benz has already begun replanting trees on its own property and in Atlanta neighborhoods like Edgewood, Mr. Exler said.

At the end, suit-clad officials lined up, shovels in hand, to dig up a bit of earth. It was the official start to the construction process. The building is slated to open in February 2018.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...