Friday, October 27, 2000
Area leaders heading to COMDEX
Working in concert to attract "industries of the mind" to the Atlanta region, a large contingent of economic development specialists will convene in Las Vegas, Nev. next month to attend and exhibit during the nation's largest technology trade show, COMDEX 2000.
The cooperative venture between the Joint Development Authority of Metropolitan Atlanta and Metro South Inc. represents South Fulton and eight other counties.
Founded in 1993, Metro South was among the nation's first regional economic development marketing initiatives and originally incorporated only four of its current members: Clayton, Fayette, Henry and South Fulton counties. Within two years, both Coweta and Spalding were involved.
Today, Douglas, DeKalb and Rockdale have teamed with Fulton and Clayton counties to make up the JDAMA.
Joint development authorities in Georgia are afforded a number of benefits for their cooperative efforts, and are also far more likely to capture the interest of firms planning a relocation or expansion, since they know that those benefits are likely to trickle down to them, according to a JDAMA spokesman.
"This type of activity shows people throughout the United States that the region of metropolitan Atlanta works together in the best interest of its citizens and the companies who locate here," said Dr. C. Clayton Powell III, who chairs the Development Authority of Fulton County, as well as the JDAMA. Under his leadership, Fulton's recruitment has become more aggressive, but those activities have also expanded to include neighboring groups.
COMDEX, celebrating its 20th year in 2000, is touted as "a marketplace of 'bricks and clicks,' real-time, on-line, anytime." Exhibitors include corporate representatives of storage networks, wireless, e-commerce, biometrics and software companies, among others.
From Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Handspring to Qualcomm, Nokia and Intel, the industry giants come to showcase the latest in technological trends and availability, and have reserved over a million square feet of floor space for this year's event.
"It's a captive audience in the very industry that the state of Georgia has targeted for current and future recruitment initiatives," says Steve Rieck, former chairman of Metro South and president of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce.
"As one of the few metropolitan areas represented at COMDEX, our chances of making lasting impressions with decision-makers are excellent," he said. He explained that the same group of developers attended the trade show last year, and that the experience has honed their planning skills for the upcoming event.
Slated to run Nov. 13-17, the trade show attracts several hundred thousand attendees. In order to convey what the Atlanta region has to offer, each community is building a collage of images to show the "best of" a different feature of the region for each of the five days.
Beginning with transportation assets, the other daily themes will include technology, education, sports and culture. Powell noted that a professionally designed, 10' x 20' booth will incorporate not only graphics and print materials, but will use technology to showcase the region's multifaceted amenities with a kiosk that displays digital images and streaming video of the metro area.
In addition to promotional items imprinted with a specially designed logo for the event and a web site that will link to individual counties, a reception for invited guests has been planned for the second night of the show. According to Bob White, Metro South chairman and executive director of the Henry County Development Authority, "Our members will have an opportunity to consult on a more casual and comfortable basis with prospects who appear to have some interest in our area."
A memento will be given to each guest in hopes that they'll "keep Georgia on their minds," but in particular, that the Atlanta region is foremost on their minds.
Several members of the organizations are working on the design and creation of a web site built especially for COMDEX. By visiting http://www.atlantajda.org before, during or after the event, attendees can take a virtual tour of Atlanta and even link to individual counties and communities within the participating region. When they get home, contacting any participating member will be as simple as clicking on "contact us," and relationships begun in Las Vegas can be developed at will.
The benefits of regional cooperation are varied, say group members, but the most obvious is that of an ability to pool resources, ideas and leads.
"Individually, this venture would be cost prohibitive to the average county's economic development organization," said Rieck, adding that financial limitations are just one factor in planning such a huge undertaking.
"The most valuable benefits of working together aren't tangible ones, but they're the collaborative efforts of meeting logistical challenges and creativity for marketing materials and so many other items that are possible through an exchange from different perspectives."
Powell agrees enthusiastically, concluding, "We have to offer, in the Atlanta region, anything an international firm could possibly want or need, and in which county they locate doesn't matter as long as it's in our region."
The Joint Development Authority of Metropolitan Atlanta and Metro South expect to come home in mid-November with a list of qualified leads, which they will share. For information on the groups' collaborative efforts, visit the web site. COMDEX information is available at http://www.comdex.com.