Inaugural Grow Georgia Summit Provides Food for Thought

Inaugural Grow Georgia Summit Provides Food for Thought

By: Malloy Peterson, Senior Vice President, Carter

Last Thursday, June 11, Carter co-sponsored the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s first Grow Georgia Summit, a half-day panel discussion focused on how Atlanta and Georgia compete with other regional powerhouses – specifically Charlotte, Dallas and Nashville – for economic development opportunities.  Carter’s six decades of experience developing within Atlanta and some the nation’s largest and most competitive urban cores has provided us with a wealth of information and perspective on how states and regions compete over corporate relocations and retentions.  As such, joining with the Atlanta Business Chronicle to launch this initiative and further this conversation was a perfect fit for us.  

Last week’s event commenced with a panel of Business Chronicle editors from Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Nashville who provided a SWOT analysis of their respective cities.  Not surprisingly, airports factored as key strengths for Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte, while business-friendly governments were cited in Atlanta, Dallas and Nashville.  Common weaknesses among all cities included a lack of infrastructure investment which has led to increased congestion.  Weak public school systems were also cited in Atlanta and Nashville, while Charlotte noted higher education as a weakness.  

The emergence of the Southeast United States as an auto production and supplier hub was presented as an opportunity in Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville.  But each market also discussed growth opportunities in target industries with Atlanta touting solar and film, Charlotte – manufacturing and financial services, Dallas – data centers and insurance and Nashville – technology.  In the way of threats, editors from Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville mentioned initiatives by current state legislatures which could directly or indirectly affect recruiting efforts.  

At the conclusion of the SWOT analysis, there was vibrant discussion about the impact of aggressive incentives versus an absence of the income tax in the race to lure corporate relocations.  The overwhelming response from the panel was that incentives clearly rule the day.  States without income taxes cited having higher property and consumption taxes.  The panel also agreed that these were historically good times for the South in general but warned against getting too comfortable in our winning ways.

An Atlanta and Georgia-centric panel convened afterward to discuss data behind our local competitive position.  From the outset, there was a strong focus on investing in small businesses, the entrepreneurial class and community and technical colleges to ensure long-term growth attracts millennials, and creates a ready workforce.  The panel also warned Atlanta to wean itself off of its dependence on population growth and suggested focusing more on exporting goods and services for long-term sustainability.  

The take-aways were many, but the event left many unanswered questions as well.  Luckily, the Chronicle will revisit the topic, with Carter as co-sponsor, at a second event on Friday, November 13.  

For Carter, one quote resonated with us, summarizing the strong link between commercial real estate and economic development.  As Craig Richards, CEO of Invest Atlanta said, “Place making is really at the core of innovation economies.”  When the two work hand-in-hand, a community experiences a synergy where the sum of the whole is truly greater than the parts.  

For more on Carter’s history of place making, visit or check us out on social media at      

For more on recent economic development wins for these cities, check out: Grow Georgia Summit – Recent economic development news 

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