Ernst & Young’s decision to add 400 jobs at a new global IT center in Alpharetta may be the first wave of the firm’s expansion in metro Atlanta.
Mo Osborne, the accounting firm’s chief information officer, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the center’s opening on Thursday that the company is exploring whether to add up to 200 more jobs in the area.
“We want to do transformational IT work,” she said. “We want to make this a very great place to work for IT folks so people can have long and good careers here.”
The company’s new center, spurred partly by a $1 million grant from a state economic development fund, was celebrated as the latest in a flurry of high-tech companies that have expanded in Atlanta.
Two of the biggest were decisions by automaker General Motors to build a $26 million technology development center in nearby Roswell that would employ about 1,000 and the move by software firm AirWatch to add 800 new jobs to its Sandy Springs headquarters.
“The last year focused on manufacturing and this year the focus on innovation and technology,” said Chris Cummiskey, the head of Georgia’s economic development department. “We are blesssed to be a manufacturing state and an innovation state. This says a lot about the state of Georgia.”
He’s referring to last year’s announcements that Baxter International would build a pharmaceutical plant near Social Circle to employ 1,500 and Caterpillar’s decision to bring 1,400 jobs to an Athens manufacturing center.
While state leaders are reluctant to downplay the role of manufacturing in Georgia’s economy, they’ve sought to intensify a push for “knowledge-based jobs” centered on science and technology. Those types of jobs are typically high-paying and attract a higher educated workforce nearby - as well as other high-tech firms and spinoffs - that beef up the local tax base.
Gov. Nathan Deal said the technology sector has helped create 16,000 new jobs in the last two years, roughly one-fifth of the new jobs created in Georgia during that span.
“Georgia has rightfully earned the reputation as a place for a technology center to be located,” he said.