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Atlanta boosts its international status and brand

Photo credit: Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Photo credit: Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Mercedes-Benz partners with the Atlanta Falcons

Partnerships work to expand Atlanta’s brand beyond urban entertainment capital

LaRonda Sutton, director of film and entertainment for the city of Atlanta, recently dubbed Atlanta the “southeast film capital of the world.”

“Atlanta is not Black Hollywood. We are creating our own identity and competing with Hollywood,” she explained to a captive audience of brand marketers. Sutton’s office grossed an estimated at $5.1 billion in 2014. It’s obvious urban movies and film aren’t the only ones being filmed in the city. Atlanta has long been a leader in minority achievement. Most visibly, the mayoral appointment is consistently African American since Maynard Jackson’s election in 1974. With African American mayors leading the city’s economic development, Atlanta has been viewed by the mainstream as a land where minorities can accomplish the American dream with less resistance than other cities. In addition to being home to the country’s most noted HBCUs, the city’s musical achievements are also part of the reason the city is perceived as the “Black capital” of the world. References like “Hotlanta,” “the new chocolate city,” and “the Black Mecca” seem harmless, but insinuate the city has little international appeal outside of entertainment achievement among Blacks.

Sutton’s description of Atlanta offers clarity in relation to the film and entertainment industry, and is being mirrored in other genres of business. With the installation of Atlanta’s new streetcar system along with the influx of Uber, Lyft and even Zip Cars in metro Atlanta, the transportation landscape is much more manageable; making the city much more attractive to host national conferences and mainstream business opportunities. Adding the recent move of luxury automakers Porsche and Mercedes-Benz’s headquarters suggests there is a shift happening that extends beyond Atlanta’s “chocolate-laced” reputation and puts the city and the state of Georgia in a position to be the new business capital of the U.S.

In addition to the film industry, Porsche’s $100 million dollar facility brought over 400 jobs, approximately 100 of them immediately new to Atlanta, with more to come. Mercedes-Benz brought an equally impressive corporate headquarters with the promise of over 600 new jobs, with more to come. Today, Mercedes-Benz hosted a press conference unveiling the plans for a $1.4 billion stadium upgrade for the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to the partnership with Arthur Blanks and the Falcons which the company labeled their “single largest marketing experience to date,” Steve Cannon, MBUSA president says, “We look forward to continuing to bring new jobs to the city of Atlanta. The Uber, Lyft and Zip car franchises continue to employ Atlantans at a rate only exceeded by the amount of new business the city continues to embrace.”

With the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranking as the world’s busiest airport serving over 95 million passengers, over 260,000 daily, it stands to reason the capability for business has been here for years and with the new ground transportation and additional mainstream corporate presence. Atlanta is sure to experience an economic resurgence placing the city in a top international spot.

“Mercedes-Benz is one of the leading brands in the world and I think its important for people to see that Mercedes has partnered with the Falcons and more importantly chosen Atlanta for their corporate home,” says Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. Today, Arthur Blank announced Mercedes-Benz named as sponsor for Falcons’ new stadium set to open in 2017. They will be naming-rights partner until 2042. Their contract expires with New Orleans in 2021.

With marketing demonstrations such as the Mercedes-Benz partnership with the Falcons, and the enormous success of the Georgia’s film tax credit, Atlanta is geared to be one of the biggest international brands in the world, certainly not just the urban space. Atlanta city councilman District 2 Kwanza Hall echoes the excitement expressed in today’s press conference, “There is significant investment here in Atlanta currently and more on the way. What’s truly exciting is that the city is on target to do even greater numbers than the $5.1 billion achieved last year in relation to the Georgia film tax credit and several other ventures in the years ahead.”