Cobb leaders discuss growing biz, economic development at Marquee Monday

Mar. 15—CUMBERLAND — Five Cobb County leaders from industries ranging from real estate, health care and logistics discussed their latest projects coming to fruition in 2022, emerging industry trends and how the county is poised for future economic growth at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce's Marquee Monday event.

Russ Owens, general counsel at Vanderlande, Lesley Slaughter, senior vice president of Soliant Health, Tom Cobb, senior vice president of development at Oakmont and Tad Selby, CEO of NPSG Global, discussed the perks of doing business in Cobb on a panel moderated by former chamber chairman Rob Garcia of Pinnacle Financial Partners.

Before jumping into the discussion, Garcia announced 2022 is the 10th anniversary of the formation of SelectCobb, the chamber's economic development arm previously known as Cobb Competitive Edge.

"When Cobb Competitive Edge was formed, there was a very intense strategic plan that was put together and it came back and basically said that if everything proposed in this plan went right... what Cobb County can expect in 10 years is 10,000 new jobs and about a billion dollars of new investment in our community," Garcia said. "As it stands now... we've had 195 companies (come to Cobb) in the last 10 years, 38,000 high quality jobs and $3.47 billion dollars, which is absolutely amazing. The partnership of so many of you in this room is what made this possible."

In 2021 alone, the SelectCobb team completed a record-setting 30 projects that led to the creation of 3,414 jobs across all geographic areas of Cobb, according to the chamber.

NPSG Global has been one of those companies to experience growth in the county; Selby said the industrial insulation company that caters to large clients like Wayfair, Amazon and Dollar Tree, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June shortly after expanding its headquarters to a new location in Cobb. The new headquarters will accommodate NPSG Global's rapidly growing workforce of about 80 employees, he said.

"One of the things (the pandemic) did for us was allow us to stay in the space that we are in for a little bit longer but our growth really necessitated a much bigger move," he said. "In May, we'll be relocating a little bit south to Parkway Center, which is just off the South Loop. We're very excited about that, and in addition to that, just about a year ago now, we added a warehouse just outside the Kennesaw State campus. It's a 40,000-square-foot facility."

Owens said Vanderlande, a logistics automation company that specializes in airport baggage and parcel systems for companies like UPS, FedEx and Amazon, is also moving its headquarters from its current two buildings at West Oak Business Park in Marietta. He said 550 employees will move to the new facility by the end of April.

"As business has grown, we've filled up those buildings and started looking for a new North American headquarters location as we outgrew those buildings and after a nationwide search, we eventually settled on a property off of Barrett Parkway on Chastain Meadows," he said. "It's a 27-acre property with a 150,000-square-foot office building."

Aside from new headquarters, the panelists said they were continuing to hire workers from Cobb for their growing businesses. Soliant Health, a health care and education staffing agency based in Peachtree Corners, will bring 130 jobs to the Cobb Galleria Centre, according to Slaughter.

"Just about two years ago, we hit 400 colleagues and this month we passed 1,000," she said. "So lots and lots of internal growth, and we are just excited to expand that into Cobb County and know that the county is going to bring us a diverse and talented pool of candidates. We can't wait to start hiring."

For the commercial real estate business, Cobb said Oakmont, an Atlanta-based investment developer, has seen more interest in warehouses and distribution facilities thanks to the supply chain demands brought about by the pandemic.

"Our sector of real estate business has really been a beneficiary of renewed growth as a result of COVID," he said. "With everyone staying home, e-commerce has just accelerated its growth."

When asked what keeps them up at night, a majority of the panelists agreed, it's keeping up with the demand from consumers and clients.

"There's tremendous demand," Owens said. "During COVID, there was certainly a lull on the airport side of the business that was counterbalanced by the e-commerce side of the business, which was great. But those customers especially are really pushing for faster, more efficient."