Big news around these parts at the beginning of 2015 is that Mercedes Benz has decided to move its new U.S. headquarters to Atlanta. Which is a fine thing for Atlanta. Mercedes and Porsche. Two high class car companies with U.S. headquarters in a high class car driving city.
The more interesting aspect of the move is why MBUSA is heading south. I am sure that the $23 million in tax incentives had a little bit to do with it. But it was not the primary reason cited. It seems that they are coming to Atlanta for three reasons. First, the cost of doing business and the tax environment in New Jersey was too high (according to The Wall Street Journal the move is going to save MB 20% in costs). Second, the infrastructure in the South offers easier access to well maintained air, land, and sea transportation. Third, Mercedes felt that moving to Atlanta would improve their image to younger consumers.
This final point is an important one. Young people are moving to Georgia. The New York Times even saw it fit to print the following statement:
The Southeast has replaced California as the place where many people now go to find the American dream.
The reason why they are coming is the same reason why Mercedes is heading to Atlanta. People are realizing that the biggest cost of living items, housing, energy, and taxes are lower in the South. And once they get here people don’t seem to leave. Georgia has the fourth lowest diaspora rate in the nation.
To quote Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche,
The South is much more relevant than it used to be.
I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon. The South is rising.