Batter Up

Major League Baseball finally brings the All-Star Game to Truist Park.

Big baseball and soccer games are coming to metro Atlanta, the auto industry keeps accelerating, and businesses invest in developing the collective workforce and leadership both now and in the future. 

Kevin Liles/Atlanta Braves

Back in the Swing 

The Atlanta Braves’ best-in-baseball 104 regular-season wins didn’t produce postseason success, but the team is ending 2023 with good news. Not only did right-fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. win the National League MVP Award, but Truist Park was named the site of the 2025 All-Star Game. 

In announcing the decision Nov. 16, Commissioner Rob Manfred praised the Braves, Truist Park, and the surrounding Battery Atlanta development. Manfred did not mention that he moved the All-Star Game out of Cobb County in 2021 because of a state election law enacted that spring. 

Kevin Liles/Atlanta Braves

Cobb County is set to spend $1.6 million on law enforcement planning, justified by an economic impact of $37 million to $190 million it says other cities have seen from hosting the game and related activities.  

But years of economic studies give little reason to expect much economic benefit from hosting the MLB All-Star Game,” says J.C. Bradbury, a Kennesaw State economics professor. He says most business at such games comes from season ticket holders who are just redirecting their spending. Sports events just aren’t big drivers of economic activity.”  

Other Games People Play 

  • Atlanta Drive GC, Arthur Blank’s team in startup simulator golf league TGL, will have to wait until 2025 to tee off because of damage in November to the under-construction arena in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, that will host all league events. Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Billy Horschel, and Lucas Glover were supposed to take their first Drive swings this January.
The Hawk-YMCA partnership extends to the team’s G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks.
  • The Atlanta Hawks are wearing a Y logo on their jerseys after reaching a multiyear partnership with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. Last season, Atlanta-based digital health company Sharecare had the left-shoulder advertising patch.
  • CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American soccer, will hold the opening match of Copa America 2024 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20. The tournament features 10 national teams from South America and six from North and Central America and the Caribbean. 

Rivian Revs Up 

Construction can shift into overdrive at the 7,500-job Rivian electric vehicle plant in Social Circle after the truck maker officially gained control of the 1,728-acre site Nov. 9 on a 50-year lease with the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties. 

The authority also issued $5 billion in bonds to finance the project. 

Construction was supposed to begin in 2022 but ran into local opposition, legal challenges, and the company’s financial struggles. Production now is expected to begin in 2026. 

With Hyundai Motor Group’s $7.6 billion Metaplant America in Ellabell still racing toward an opening as early as October 2024, however, Georgia’s automotive ecosystem continues to pick up speed: 

  • Toyota Industries Electric Systems North America broke ground Nov. 14 on a $69 million addition to the nearly 20-year-old Toyota Industries complex in Pendergrass. When the facility opens in 2025, it is expected to employ more than 250 people making electric converters for EVs.
  • Hyundai Industrial is spending $24 million to renovate a building near Newton to make armrests and headrests for Metaplant America and possibly other Hyundai and Kia plants. On Nov. 1, the company announced that the facility will hire 100 people.
  • Hwashin is investing $176 million to build a Dublin factory that will employ 460 people making EV chassis components for Metaplant America and the Kia plant in West Point. Announced Oct. 31, the Laurens County facility is due to open in late 2025.
  • Eight companies in the EV industry have signed office leases at Satellite Place in Duluth, developer Banyan Street Capital said Nov. 16. The companies include Hyundai Glovis, a logistics company moving from a smaller space in Gwinnett County, and a subsidiary of SK Group, which is building an EV battery plant with Hyundai in Bartow County and operates battery plants in Jackson County.

Talent for Today 

The Metro Atlanta Chamber emphasized the need to recruit and retain a talented workforce during its annual meeting Nov. 16. 

The unemployment rate for the state and the Atlanta area was 3.4 percent in October, and the Chamber’s 2023 Talent Supply Report found that the workforce isn’t growing as fast as the number of job openings. “Talent is top of mind across this 29-county region, the state, and the country,” says Katie Kirkpatrick, the Chamber president and CEO.

The Chamber is launching a public relations campaign—Atlanta Where You Belong—to attract talent and convening 22 human resources executives as the ATL Talent Collaborative to target the three areas of greatest need: data science, software development, and warehouse and logistics.  

Leaders for Tomorrow 

The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute for Leadership Development has named the first class of 30 10th- and 11th-graders for Youth Lead Georgia. 

Designed to develop a community of future state leaders, the free program will bring the teens together for four weekend retreats, beginning in January, and a four-day summer bus tour. 

Chick-fil-A has pledged $1.5 million to Youth Lead and an annual leadership summit for youths from all 159 Georgia counties. 

Also supporting the program is The Same House, a philanthropy led by former Chick-fil-A Foundation Executive Director Rodney Bullard, who is giving $100,000 over three years for Youth Lead teens’ community service projects. 

The 30 participants come from every corner of Georgia. See the full list 

Rankings and Routers 

  • Georgia again is second in Site Selection magazine’s ranking of state business climates. Georgia passed the only state that beat it last year, Virginia, but Texas leapfrogged both.
  • DataBank has purchased 95 acres in Lithia Springs for its fifth data center in the Atlanta area. The site is close to the fourth center, which is being built in Douglas County. Meanwhile, Switch won the Cartersville City Council’s approval for zoning changes required for its second metro-area data center. CBRE reported in September that the Atlanta market is sixth in the nation for data center capacity.