If you are deciding where to put a high-tech innovation hub it might make sense to choose a city that has 13,000 technology companies employing 200,000 people.
“We are excited about the opportunity to tap into the engineering talent of one of the fastest growing high-technology areas in the nation,” said Tom Gebhardt, president of Panasonic Automotive Systems Co. of America announcing the company’s decision to establish the Panasonic Automotive Innovation Center in the Technology Square in Atlanta on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The Center, which began operations at the end of May, is expected to become an incubator for next-generation automotive infotainment technologies, according to the company.
Panasonic Automotive Systems is Panasonic’s second largest division and is expected to add many new jobs in metro Atlanta.
“Our goal is to develop a strong partnership with the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute as well as the University’s Division of Professional Practice for employing co-ops,” Gebhardt said.
The company worked closely with Georgia Tech to identify research and education resources within the university that would support the company’s objectives.
“Among the most important goals is to involve Georgia Tech students in Panasonic’s research and development program, providing our students with real-world industrial experience – and connecting the company to some of the world’s brightest and most innovative young minds,” explained Stephen E. Cross, executive vice president for research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Students abound in the Atlanta region with 120,000 within the city limit and 270,000 within the region. The area is home to 57 colleges and universities, and seven technical colleges each year. “That is a technology feeder system of talent,” explains Invest Atlanta’s CEO Brian McGowan. Atlanta holds the No. 4 spot for recent college grads. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek 7/10)
That readily available source of talent is a contributing factor to Atlanta’s #4 ranking in terms of Fortune 500 headquarters. ( New York, Houston and Dallas outrank Atlanta.)
In addition to large Fortune 500 headquarters calling Atlanta home there is a trend of all type of manufacturing companies coming back to the city. “Urban manufacturing, that is bringing manufacturing back to urban core, is happening in a large way in Atlanta, particularly in advanced manufacturing” said McGowan.
According to a Brookings Institution report on trends in what it terms “the geography of production,”80% of the nation’s manufacturing jobs are located in and around the nation’s cities.
In fact Metro Atlanta alone holds 150,000 manufacturing jobs, a gain of 9,000 since early 2010. A decade ago, the region had 186,300 such jobs. The Atlanta region posted a 4.3% increase in manufacturing jobs in the past two years. U.S. cities, overall, notched only a 2.7% increase, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Part of the strength of Atlanta is the Technology Association of Georgia which is involved in working on the economic advancement of the state's technology industry through activities in the areas of policy, capital, education and giving.
Atlanta has already been a huge draw for such technology giants as AT&T, IBM Corp., General Electric, Verizon Wireless, Cisco, Google, Kimberly Clark, Equifax and UCB, just to name a few.