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October 8, 2018

Global Commerce Council Welcomes Two Titans – Mercedes-Benz and Porsche – for a Discussion on Atlanta’s Automotive Ecosystem

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Metro Atlanta is a hub for multiple industries with top Fortune 500 presences as well as creative talent second to none. The automotive industry is among this grouping, with the region being home to two of Germany’s finest – Mercedes-Benz USA and Porsche Cars North America. The Metro Atlanta Chamber Global Commerce Council welcomed both organizations at a recent meeting to host a discussion on their operations and the city’s contributions to driving innovation.

The Global Commerce Council connects members from companies both at home and abroad. At the meeting on October 3, council members heard from Joseph S. Folz, vice president, general counsel and secretary for Porsche Cars North America, Inc. and Harald Henn, vice president and chief financial officer for Mercedes-Benz USA. David Balos, commercial banking market manager for Georgia and Alabama with Chase, moderated the talk.

“We were proud to have been the first automobile maker to choose Atlanta,” Folz said, explaining that Porsche now has a presence of 350 employees and 190 dealerships around the U.S. “We chose Atlanta because, if you are searching for a location with an Eastern Time Zone, Atlanta simply does not come out usually worse than second.”

Folz explained that Porsche reviewed over 70 sites, and Atlanta’s cost of living, culture and convenience came out as major attractions.

Porsche’s headquarters has become a fixture in the city, with an integrated Porsche Experience Center – one of only two in the U.S. The center provides a flagship experience, allowing guests to try out multiple models of vehicle. Since opening in June 2015, the center has seen 150,000 visitors and averaging 5,700 per month.

Mercedes-Benz USA followed Porsche in their move to Atlanta, and Henn relayed that it was the presence of other Fortune 500 companies and international businesses they respected, like Coca-Cola, that pushed them to move the company to the region. North America is currently the #2 market for Mercedes-Benz behind China, with 2,000 employees and 380 dealerships in the U.S.

“[In Atlanta] We are close to our production plant in Alabama,” Henn said. “The move was also a cultural development opportunity.”

In Atlanta, Mercedes-Benz USA could operate with a startup mentality, with two-third of their employees being new hires and leaning toward a collaborative working environment. The current headquarters offers childcare options, a fitness center, a coffee bar and more. Further, each employee attends a “Brand Immersion” session, giving them days-long briefing on Mercedes-Benz as a company.

Henn noted that the southern and western markets in the U.S. are slowly beginning to outpace the traditional northeastern automotive market – another benefit to locating in Atlanta.

Mercedes-Benz USA operates significant community engagement operations – with youth in the region, environmentalism and education. Some of the metro Atlanta partnerships include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Trees ATL, Junior Achievement and more. Mercedes-Benz Stadium also continues to contribute to the local ecosystem bringing major sporting events and entertainment.

Metro Atlanta Chamber Vice President of Global Commerce Jorge Fernandez closed the meeting with an economic development update. Recent companies moving into the region have included Instacart, thyssenkrupp Elevator and Pandora. Atlanta Cyber Week will kick off from Oct. 8-12, highlighting Georgia’s cybersecurity ecosystem and solutions.

For more information on the Global Commerce Council, please reach out to Natalie Jones.  

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