Coca-Cola confirmed Monday it will be moving the bulk of its roughly 2,000 information technology workers out of Cobb County to a new IT hub in downtown Atlanta.
The move should be completed by mid-2014, company officials said, leaving a gaping hole at 3200 Wildwood Plaza, a sparkling glass office tower that sits between Terrell Mill and Windy Hill roads off Powers Ferry Road.
Cobb County leaders were disheartened by the Atlanta-based beverage giant’s move, but said they are grateful the jobs — which are held by many Cobb residents — aren’t headed too far away, and said they are confident new job opportunities will replace the loss.
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee said he was aware Coca-Cola was consolidating and planned to move offices to Atlanta but was nonetheless “dispirited” by the news.
“It’s unfortunate, but we understand that’s part of this day and age in business —having to consolidate wherever possible,” Lee said.
Brooks Mathis, vice president of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, said Coca-Cola leaders have been pretty quiet about the move, but said he understood the company had to make an internal corporate decision based on what it needed to move forward.
“We continue to recruit companies so this is not as big of a blow as it could be,” Mathis said. “Obviously, it’s something we never want to see, but it’s why we do what we do and continue to recruit.”
Mathis looked on the bright side, as Cobb residents who work at 3200 Wildwood likely will keep those jobs and simply have a further commute to Atlanta. Another positive he noted is that Coca-Cola indicated it will keep jobs in neighboring 2500 Wildwood Plaza.
“They’re not pulling all ties out of Cobb County, and that’s important to us,” Mathis said. “We value that.”
Coca-Cola spokesman Kent Landers said that as part of the ongoing enhancement and consolidation of facilities following the company’s acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ former North America operations, Coca-Cola will be creating an Information Technology Center of Excellence at the SunTrust Plaza Garden Offices on Peachtree Center Avenue in Atlanta.
“By mid-2014, this center will bring together nearly 2,000 of our Atlanta-based Information Technology associates and contractors in one central location to further improve the efficiency of our operations,” he said.
Employees of 3200 Wildwood, a 320,000-square-foot building, will either move into the new downtown facility or into the neighboring 2500 Wildwood Building, which spans about 250,000 square feet and also serves as the headquarters of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Landers said.
“As far as the number of employees affected or where they are going, we’re still working through that,” Landers said.
Landers said the new lease at the SunTrust Plaza Garden Offices includes 275,868 square feet of commercial space over a 10-year period.
Along with the statement, a memo from three Coca-Cola IT leaders said the move is part of the ongoing enhancement and consolidation of facilities made possible by the Coca-Cola Co.’s acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ former North America operations in 2010.
“The move will combine most of our IT teams currently located at the 3200 Wildwood building and the Atlanta Office Complex (AOC) in a new office location near the AOC,” the statement reads.
Lee said the move is another indication why the Cobb Chamber’s EDGE program, focused on growing and attracting businesses to the county, is so important.
“We’re disappointed but confident that as the space becomes available we’ll be able to sell it in the not-too-distant future,” Lee said. “We’ll work hard to replace those jobs as soon as possible.”