Fulton County is undeniably an economic engine, accounting for 42 percent of the region’s GDP and ranking fourth in the Southeast in jobs. While all of Fulton County has a strong business base, there are a number of unique opportunities today in South Fulton that will lead to continued growth in that area far into the future.
A number of metro Atlanta’s best-known businesses already make their home in South Fulton, including Chick-Fil-A and Delta, with the Porsche North American headquarters recently rounding out the list. Why? As the old adage goes, South Fulton offers location, location and location. Its proximity to downtown Atlanta, interstate systems, rail, and air make this an incredible
For example, proximity to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport puts South Fulton within a 2-hour flight of 80 percent of the United States. The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance was established to coordinate businesses around the Hartsfield-Jackson footprint, strengthening opportunities. In addition, the nearby Fulton County Airport at Brown Field provides a general aviation airport that is home to many of the region’s corporation air, as well as charter services. Together, these two resources offer unique opportunities, with significant opportunity for expansion on neighboring properties.
Atlanta was built on railroads, and both the Norfolk Southern and CSX lines are easily accessible.
Interstate access is also an attractive asset in South Fulton, with 80 percent of the United States within a two-day truck drive. The approved deepening of the port in Savannah, combined with continued growth in the e-commerce sector, will lead to continued growth in the logistics and distribution sector, supporting imports and exports. The distribution centers of today are not the dusty warehouses of yesterday, but, instead, are sophisticated, technology-driven operations relying on a highly skilled workforce.
Thankfully, access to that highly qualified workforce is another asset working in favor of South Fulton. Approximately 48 percent of Fulton County residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28 percent of Georgians. Businesses seeking to relocate to metro Atlanta have a great opportunity to connect with a workforce that is ready, willing and able to meet their needs.
South Fulton also has the advantage of a diverse cultural and recreational environment that offers an attractive location for employees seeking to live close to jobs. South Fulton school test scores are rising. In fact, Fulton County high schools have been among the models in student achievement in the region, with Creekside, Langston Hughes and Westlake all showing significant gains in graduation rates from 2011 to 2013. The residential real estate market is strong, with housing stock available to meet every need. From Serenbe at Chattahoochee Hills to the resurgence of main streets in Fairburn and East Point, South Fulton boasts charming communities and cultural assets that make it a great place to call home.
Many of the newest workers moving to Fulton County are finding work in the entertainment industry, which is strong and growing in South Fulton. The boom in the film and television industry across Georgia is well documented, and much of that growth is occurring in South Fulton. The construction of the 404 Studio Partners’ Atlanta Metropolitan Studios project at the former Shannon Mall in Union City, in addition to the pending Tyler Perry development of Fort McPherson at Atlanta’s border with East Point, offers additional opportunity for jobs and supporting businesses. Music and arts continue to grow, as evidenced by the success of the TomorrowWorld festival in Chattahoochee Hills. In 2013, its first year, TomorrowWorld brought an estimated economic impact of more than $85 million, including
$70 million in the Atlanta area. This festival will be in its third year in 2015.
Finally, South Fulton literally has room for businesses to grow. Larger property tracts are available in many areas for those businesses requiring a larger footprint. These larger tracts are becoming more difficult to find in many areas, especially with proximity to the central business district. Virtually every business sector has an opportunity to grow in South Fulton, both today and tomorrow.
Alvin P. ”Al” Nash is Executive Director, Development Authority of Fulton County