The move is part of the company’s consolidation of facilities following Coke’s 2010 acquisition of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ former North American operations. Coke will create an IT Center of Excellence at the SunTrust Plaza Garden Offices at Peachtree Center 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,” said Coke spokesman Kent Landers.
The move will combine most of Coke’s IT teams now at the 3200 Wildwood building and Coke’s Atlanta Office Complex in a new office location near that complex.
So what does the move mean for Cobb?
“It’s unfortunate, but we understand that’s part of this day and age in business — having to consolidate wherever possible,” County Commission Chairman Tim Lee said. “We’re disappointed but confident that as the space becomes available we’ll be able to sell it in the not-too-distant future. We’ll work hard to replace those jobs as soon as possible.”
The good news is that Coke is not moving all of its staff out of the Wildwood Plaza building, only its IT workers. Also good is that most of those affected by the move are not losing their jobs — merely gaining a longer and less pleasant commute.
“We continue to recruit companies so this is not as big of a blow as it could be,” said Cobb Chamber of Commerce VP Brooks Mathis. “Obviously, it’s something we never want to see, but it’s why we do what we do and continue to recruit.”
We’re confident that the Chamber and the building’s owner (CBRE Global Investors) will have little trouble filling the space now occupied by Coke. After all, the Wildwood Plaza building (built in the late 1980s by Cousins Properties) features Class A office space in an upscale office tower in a striking setting atop a heavily wooded ridge. Moreover, it is just minutes from I-75 and I-285 and not much further to downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. All told, it is one of the most desirable office locations in the Southeast — and it’s in a county with a pro-business environment, excellent (in most cases) public schools and first-rate “qualify of life” amenities to boot.
In other words, there should be little or no need for Cobb to “give away the store” in terms of tax and other incentives in the effort to lure a replacement for Coke.
Businesses come and businesses go. And it’s unfortunate that a Fortune 500 corporation like Coke is moving so much of its presence downtown. But Coke’s move should be seen as Cobb’s opportunity.