Anthem tower in Midtown a salvo in the war for talent


The parent company of Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans to move the Atlanta software hub it announced last year to a new Midtown office tower near Technology Square.

Health insurance giant Anthem said Thursday the company will anchor a 21-story office tower by developer Portman Holdings at 4th and West Peachtree streets that should open by 2020. Anthem made waves last October when it announced plans to put a software center in the city’s tallest tower, Bank of America Plaza, and add 1,800 jobs.

The new Midtown tower will offer the company room for potential future expansion to 3,000 IT professionals, a spokeswoman said.

Tom Miller, Anthem chief information officer, said as the company began hiring for its software center, it learned that each two new hires created an addition role for a contract IT or consulting position to aid in the tech hub’s mission.

That has created the need for more space than could be supplied at Bank of America Plaza.

Attracting top-flight talent from Georgia Tech and accessing their research capabilities were crucial parts of the decision, Miller said. Atlanta’s cost-of-living, workforce and globally connected airport also were major factors.

In the technology world, skilled coders and engineers often move from once company to the next, collecting expertise as they go. The Tech Square area is building a deep ecosystem of skilled workers, Miller said.

“A lot of the talent we are looking for today are the same sorts of talent everyone is looking for,” Miller said.

The announcement puts another blue-chip name on the doorstep of Georgia Tech. NCR is the process of developing a new headquarters campus nearby, and companies including Sage Software, Worldpay and Honeywell have located major corporate offices and tech hubs in Midtown in recent years to tap into the research power and talent of Georgia Tech.

Last month, global consultancy Accenture announced a new innovation hub and 800 new jobs at Tech Square

Travis Garland, the head of leasing for Portman, said the 10-square-block area are some of the hottest in the city for expansion by creative class companies. There’s an energy that isn’t seen in other parts of the city and companies want a recruiting edge.

“It’s very important for companies to be as close as possible to Tech Square,” he said.

Last month, the board of Invest Atlanta approved a $5 million tax break for Portman for the $105 million tower. At the time, officials said the project included new jobs for the region but declined to identify the tenant.

The project is adjacent to Coda, the new tower Portman is building at Tech Square that includes research space for Georgia Tech, high-powered computing capabilities and office space for corporations.

Ambrish Baisiwala, CEO of Portman Holdings, said the Anthem office project and Coda speaks to Tech Square’s power “in bringing together talent, technology, innovation and commerce.”

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