Cobb County Economic Development Team on a Four-Year Winning Streak
Thursday, May 7th, 2015
While most Georgians and baseball fans know that the Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County in 2017, perhaps they are not aware that, since 2011, the Cobb County Chamber’s Economic Development team has created or retained more than 14,000 jobs and over $2.2 billion in new investments, having surpassed its goals for both.
The Braves new home in SunTrust Park has already spurred incredible growth. Multiple “Class A” office towers are being developed, which should create new jobs and a vibrant sense of place within the mixed-use development. Recently, Comcast announced plans for the construction of its Central Division headquarters for 1,000 employees as part of the 60-acre project. Comcast is also investing $100 million in a multi-terabit network to make the park and surrounding community the most connected kind in the country.
Brooks Mathis, Senior VP and Executive Director, Economic Development and Cobb EDGE, since 2010, heads the team, which serves as the single point of contact and the lead sales and marketing arm for all of Cobb County. Cobb EDGE, a public-private partnership, provides a first-ever, five-year strategic blueprint for comprehensive community and economic development in the county. Mathis says, “Our focus is to do the following: recruit, retain and expand existing businesses; spur entrepreneurship; create an incubator; launch a national and global PR campaign; recruit and retain talent; and assist in policy that enhances our transportation investment, redevelopment and place making.”
He notes, “When we improve our communities, we improve the ‘product’ to market to prospective businesses, including quality of life, quality communities and top-notch educational opportunities for Cobb’s citizens.”
EDGE has seven strategic goals, or benchmarks, to be achieved by 2018: create 7,500 new jobs; increase payroll earnings and income by $420 million and $7,000 per capita; reduce unemployment to 5.5 percent; increase public school graduation rates by 4 percent; and, increase the number of college-bound students.
Mathis, a graduate of Shorter College, adds, “We have launched a campaign that is in radio, print, and also in our competitive markets noting the benefits of Cobb. Our key messages are the low taxes, low crime, incredible public schools and universities. Above all, we rely on the words of our successful companies to tell our story: Home Depot, Genuine Parts, Atlanta Braves, The Weather Channel, GE Energy, Lockheed Martin and Elf on A Shelf, just to name a few. They have been in Cobb for years and continue to enjoy success.
“Since we have many opportunities in Cobb with the creation of an incredible mixed-use development for millennials and our redevelopment corridors in both Marietta and South Cobb, we also use social media daily to promote our companies and the good news going on in Cobb.”
As with practically every community in the Atlanta metro area, transportation and traffic relief remains the biggest challenge for Cobb. Mathis notes that Cobb County is in a logistical sweet spot, with four major interstate highways and numerous state roads. To help meet this challenge, Cobb County has three Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), Cumberland, Town Center and Marietta Gateway, whose revenues from Chamber members are re-invested and leveraged with state and federal dollars for funding of public transportation and roadway improvements.
Currently, Cobb County and the CIDs are pursuing new $840 million reversible high-occupancy toll lanes on I-75, expanded high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOVs), premium bus rapid transit, light rail and extensive interchange improvements on I-75, such as the $48 million Windy Hill Diverging Diamond Interchange.
Praise for the Economic Development team comes directly from David Connell, President and CEO of the Cobb County Chamber, who states, “Economic Development is a key priority of both our Board of Directors and the Chairman of our county. We are proud to serve as the organization that brings it all together on behalf of Cobb. It is a great product and we are proud to market it to the world.”