If there was one particular theme that came up time and time again at the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s (MAC) annual year-end meeting, it was talent. Specifically, technology talent.
“It’s all about talent,” said David Abney, Chairman and CEO of UPS and next year’s MAC chair, speaking to an audience of 2,000 at State Farm Arena.
He’s right. According to the Technology Association of Georgia, over 5,000 new IT roles are posted online daily in the state.
“We have a thriving talent pipeline… but to keep it thriving, we have to feed it,” Abney continued.
MAC leadership, including president and CEO Hala Moddelmog, stated that strengthening that pipeline “through updated research and regional collaboration,” will be one of their 2019 priorities. Additional priorities include the launch of “tools to monitor and measure the region’s reputation” and continuing to support “inclusive economic growth.”
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms both spoke about workforce development as a critical piece of the talent puzzle. Moddelmog honored Governor Deal for his leadership in creating the REACH Georgia Scholarship program, which serves Georgia’s low-income, academically-promising students.
When it launched in 2012, REACH was the state’s first needs-based mentorship and college scholarship program. Today, it serves nearly 1,800 students with over $22 million in scholarships.
Mayor Bottoms spoke about the new Center for Workforce Innovation housed at Atlanta Technical College, which was announced this week. The public-private partnership is funded by several corporations that call Atlanta home: Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, SunTrust, Intercontinental Exchange, and Georgia Power, with additional funding from McKinsey & Co. and others.
The Center, set to open in fall of 2019 with up to 200 students, will include tech-based career tracks such as aircraft technical skills and information technology. The hope is that these students will be able to immediately transition into the city’s growing tech workforce.
Beyond Atlanta’s legacy corporations, the meeting showcased some of the new tenants who are increasing the demand for talent. Representatives from BlackRock, Pandora and Thyssenkrupp took the stage to share their company and their own personal commitment to the city.
“In Atlanta, we see a reflection of BlackRock,” said Peter Williams, who moved here to help lead the launch of the financial giant’s new technology hub. In October, BlackRock announced plans to hire 1,000 employees by 2024.
Shalya Forte, Pandora’s Director of Sales for the Southeast, mentioned the city’s rich music legacy and strong cultural base. The Georgia State graduate echoed many of the sentiments expressed by company leaders when they announced their major expansion in the city earlier this year.
Thyssenkrupp Elevator, a division of the multinational industrial engineering and steel conglomerate, is building a new headquarters at The Battery complex near SunTrust Park. Thyssenkrupp’s representative, Head of Research and Innovation Alison Powers, also has ties to Atlanta as a Georgia Tech engineering grad.
The meeting closed with additional announcements, including updates on Super Bowl LIII, the launch of ATL Brand Box (essentially a brand and marketing tool for Atlanta, created by the Chamber), and the announcement of Delta CEO Ed Bastian as the organization’s 2021 Chair.