Atlanta as a Global Relationship Platform: How Companies Use the City to Reach the World
Written by: Jorge Fernandez
Most know that Atlanta has the world’s busiest airport and is a hub for Fortune 500 companies. Those are primary reasons for international companies to locate here. But it’s the city’s secondary and more intangible attributes that keep those companies in Atlanta for the long term and give them the ability to use this city as a platform to access the entire world.
Collaboration and congeniality make all the difference. Unlike in other U.S. cities, everyone works together here. Beyond just site selection, there’s a spirit of camaraderie that gives international companies — big or small, in any sector, from any country — confidence in launching or growing their business, not only throughout the United States, but also to far-reaching markets.
This creates a self-sustaining cycle: Foreign-invested companies that succeed here are expected to contribute to the community in return, becoming ambassadors in their own right.
Pendleton Group is a proud part of this Atlanta ecosystem. We strive to be a facilitator for international companies to parlay local support into global reach, using Atlanta’s networks and expertise to go further.
Read on to learn how some of our recruits have made the leap to set up, stay and thrive in Atlanta — and use our city as a global springboard.
In their words: Case studies
Tecme: Tapping the Network
Tecme Corp. is an Argentina-based medical device manufacturer that selected Atlanta some seven years ago for its U.S. office. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tecme had specialized in respirators, so when the pandemic hit, the company was ready to share its life-saving products with broader markets, expanding its reach to more than 50 countries. Atlanta became the perfect base to do so.
“Establishing a business in Atlanta offers unique subjective and intangible advantages; the business ecosystem, the quality of services, the professional networking and the growth dynamics are distinctive,” said Gregorio Nieri, Tecme’s CFO and an international business consultant. “These factors allow companies to source everything they need for their business locally and then project it onto the global stage with immediate and efficient accessibility.”
Mr. Nieri attributes Tecme’s success to in part to support the company received from various Atlanta organizations. The Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia Department of Economic Development, the local U.S. Commercial Service office and other groups gave Tecme advice, often working together to help the company access the resources it needed to expand internationally, he said.
“Ease and accessibility: That’s what Atlanta provides. It’s a community that understands international business and has a business climate that is based on networking, with people who are very professional, friendly and have a spirit of internationalization,” Mr. Nieri said.
“Ease and accessibility: That’s what Atlanta provides.”
He noted that the community support didn’t end once Tecme was established in Norcross. The economic development community continues to help with international market access and information. And Atlanta’s burgeoning medical device sector has been a solid resource for Tecme as well, with like-minded partners and organizations like Next Generation Manufacturing or Partnership Gwinnett, who offer opportunities for potential collaboration.
Tecme chose Atlanta over Florida and other cities along the East Coast in part because the spirit of “give and take” is alive and well here.
“Like the old saying goes, ‘You must give in order to receive.’ That’s what makes Atlanta’s business community special,” Mr. Nieri said. “The sum is greater than its parts.”
Keeper Solutions: Engaging From Afar
Keeper Solutions, an Irish remote software development and design company for scaling fintech and medtech firms, also sees Atlanta as an essential part of its international business development strategy. Though the company has not yet established an office in Atlanta, it has secured important clients here with the help of our city’s burgeoning fintech, medtech and cleantech communities.
Keeper Solutions sources software talent from Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Poland and Costa Rica to serve a growing client base in the U.S. and Europe. The focus is to expand in Atlanta, but Emma Wilson, the company’s senior marketing manager, said they are excited about opportunities across the U.S. and internationally that their new connections in Atlanta might facilitate.
“We definitely see Atlanta as a prime market and want to immerse ourselves in the community. We have to do most of that from a distance right now, but we are building more virtual collaboration within the Atlanta market. That helps us constantly develop relationships throughout the world,” Ms. Wilson said.
She mentioned that networking events hosted by Technology Association of Georgia and Fintech Atlanta have helped introduce the company to new clients. She added that Keeper Solutions is also considering tactics like guest blogging by Atlanta fintech companies to reach a broader American – and international — audience.
Ms. Wilson sees Atlanta as a special place to access fintech clients whose values align with those of Keeper Solutions, and CTO Nick Holme and Head of Talent and Operations Mihaela Smadilo were welcomed warmly when visiting clients her after pandemic restrictions were lifted. Ms. Wilson felt the same when she attended the Technology Association of Georgia‘s Fintech South 2022 conference in June.
“The level of collaboration is really something special.”
“The fintech companies in Atlanta are genuine ‘people people.’ They value their employees, are respectful and build companies that make a difference. We are delighted to partner with them,” Ms. Wilson said, adding: “The level of collaboration is really something special. You can talk about it all day, but when you are there and witness it yourself, you’re very much blown away by it.”
Keeper Solutions is committed to the Atlanta area because it has multiple fintech companies here, and it has found the fintech ecosystem and networks in Atlanta to be a wellspring of support.
The company’s goal in Atlanta is to “build great relationships with our existing clients and expand our client base,” she added.
IDOM: Growing the Innovation Ecosystem
Spanish engineering and architecture consultancy IDOM Corp. saw Atlanta as not only an innovation hub for its North American projects but also as a place from which to connect with prospective clients around the world, said Marco Busatto, the firm’s director of Industry 4.0 in its Midtown office.
The company first came to Atlanta in 2018 to serve its growing client list in the Southeast, including large-scale projects for automotive, pulp and paper, steel and chemical plants in Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Louisiana.
IDOM became one of 10 charter members of Point A, a supply chain innovation center and think tank housed in Georgia-Pacific LLC’s headquarters downtown. The group, whose brand name and web presence were created by IDOM, involved some 45 influential companies in Atlanta, such as Georgia-Pacific, W.W. Grainger Inc., Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Corp., Delta Air Lines Inc., United Parcel Service and more, in collaborative workshops to innovate on supply chain best practices.
The effort ended, however, with the global pandemic. But Mr. Busatto is hopeful the project will resume one day, as supply chain issues are central to his company and those of its partners and clients, with Atlanta as an important transportation hub.
And, he said, Atlanta is the best location to bring together innovative companies. “That is a principal reason we have stayed in Atlanta,” Mr. Busatto said. “The relationships we made through Point A are key. The presence of leading innovators, high-tech startups and universities like Georgia Tech, plus the innovative and business-friendly environment of Atlanta was a main motive for us.”
Even though Point A closed and IDOM had to relocate its office from the Georgia-Pacific building to Colony Square, the company will continue to have a presence here because of the networking opportunities and cultural fit, in addition to the city being a “natural bridge” between Mexico and Canada, Mr. Busatto added.
He noted that Atlanta’s business community is “very international,” with many Spanish-speaking and Latino professionals, and it is very supportive. The chamber, GDEcD and others continue to be helpful, Mr. Busatto said.
IDOM is a regular sponsor of Next Generation Manufacturing’s networking events, and the organization, as well as Georgia Tech, has helped IDOM develop relationships with an ecosystem of tech startups in Atlanta, including Verusen, Sagepath Reply, Cogniac and more, he added.
IDOM also utilizes its Atlanta relationships to access international projects. Through Georgia-Pacific and Koch Industries, IDOM met Guardian Glass, who they assist with construction projects in the Middle East and India.
Advice to Newcomers
These success stories show that investing in Atlanta — or anywhere — is about more than quantitative analysis. As Pendleton has found in working with many global firms, a variety of factors will determine whether a company thrives in a new venture.
“Don’t only calculate the numbers involved in your location decision, but also consider the subjective questions that make the difference. Those intangible benefits – the business climate, the entrepreneurial mindset, the networking – those come with time and are factors that differentiate Atlanta from other places,” Mr. Nieri of Tecme said.
“Don’t only calculate the numbers involved in your location decision, but also consider the subjective questions that make the difference.”
Mr. Busatto of IDOM said newcomers should hire a mix of local and international employees.
“Have a combination of people, locals and those who know your company culture, so you don’t lose your company identity,” he suggested. “It’s not so easy, but developing good relationships is key.”
Ms. Wilson encouraged other international companies to get involved.
“Being as present as you can in the Atlanta community is really important. But even from a distance, you can still be a part of that ecosystem,” Ms. Wilson said. She noted that even before Keeper Solutions visited Atlanta, the Pendleton Group worked with Enterprise Ireland to set up meetings and introduce them to partners.
“They couldn’t have been better. They were really informative and constantly guiding our way,” Ms. Wilson said of Pendleton Group. “We needed more support from a business development point of view and a networking point of view, and we definitely got that.”
Companies who are ready to utilize Atlanta’s collaborative economic development community as a springboard to international markets can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more at www.pendletonatlanta.com.