Honeywell has earmarked $19 million for two floors’ worth of investment at a new Midtown address, a move that will bring nearly 800 new jobs to Atlanta high-tech workers. The decision to base, not only a software center, but also the new global headquarters for its Home and Business Technology unit, is thanks in part to executive Bruce Calder, who played a large role in deciding where the company would set up shop.
“This is not a data center where we do internal IT,” Calder said. “This is the main core center serving all of our businesses that’s going to create next-generation software products that will take Honeywell into the future. It’s where we will design, build, test, deploy and support from this center.”
The software center represents a sea change for the over-100-year-old company: a move from building hardware to a focus on powerful software and services. Much of that yet-to-be-written code is destined for the Internet of Things, the rapidly-growing web of connected devices, boxes and appliances. Atlanta has several companies, large and small, already hard at work building out IoT services.
Calder’s description of the center sounds like a startup hub located within the monstrous conglomerate that is Honeywell. Its’ emphasis will be on agility, on cross-functional teams working face-to-face in an environment that encourages creativity with lots of meet-up areas. The teams will work fast, constantly check with customers, and quickly pivot based on market needs.
“We bring everybody together – marketing, engineers, designers, business people, all in one spot where they work face-to-face everyday. That’s why we’re going to be so big, and have 700 software positions to fill. We have to build a large enough footprint to make this that big.”
But Calder is the first to tell you that Georgia wasn’t really on his mind.
“We started this journey about a year ago on the site selection committee,” Calder told Hypepotamus. “We looked at a number of sites, and to my surprise we picked Atlanta,” the location he admits was at the bottom of his list.
But once the 24-year company veteran began to weigh the many benefits of Atlanta, including the Georgia Tech-led talent pool, low cost of living, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, he said he quickly became a fan.
“What I saw was a network of universities and colleges anchored by Georgia Tech. But a key thing for a new company is that we don’t have to figure out who they (academic representatives) all are. They actually join together and present themselves as a combined network,” Calder said.
That oft-mentioned talent stream is also diverse, a priority for Honeywell “because a diverse team organization actually creates better products and gives us a better competitive advantage. It’s hard to find a better, more diverse city with the kind of talent we’re looking for than Atlanta.”
Throw in city and state leaders working in a bipartisan manner to grow Atlanta as a major regional tech hub, add a vibrant startup community that shares workspaces along with dreams of success, and you end up with what Calder called the “tipping point” for Honeywell’s decision, leading to the lease of 62,000 square feet of space at 715 Peachtree Street.
“This group of people that work together as though they’re one close-knit family. They genuinely engage with us on, ‘how do we make you successful, Honeywell? We want to show you why the talent is a great decision for you, but if you land here and you’re not successful, nothing matters. So how do we get you embedded in the fabric of the city?'”
Calder explained that one way Honeywell is engaging with Atlantans is in a partnership with Atlanta Tech Village to co-host events like networking receptions, career fairs and hackathons.
“Honeywell is poised to bring hundreds of jobs to Atlanta, and we are excited to serve as a catalyst that connects them deeper into the Atlanta tech community,” ATV founder David Cummings said in a news release.