Patently True

A planned regional trademark office puts a federal stamp on Georgia’s economic creativity.

While Rivian and Hyundai’s partners push the EV economy and the Port of Savannah develops more connections, Fayette County grows beyond filmmaking and the U.S. government recognizes Atlanta as a hub of innovation.

April 13, 2022 – Alexandria, VA – Portrait of Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). (Photo by/Jay Premack)

New Home for Innovators

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plans to open a Southeast regional office in the Atlanta area by the end of 2025 for patent and trademark searches and applications, training, and other outreach services.

The office will “drive economic growth and job creation by enhancing USPTO’s ability to meet people where they are and connect them with important resources to help inspire and strengthen the innovation ecosystem,” the office’s director, Kathi Vidal, said in the Dec. 13 announcement.

The regional center, the fifth in the nation, will target underrepresented populations, including veterans, rural residents, and low-income people.

For now, Georgians must travel to the headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, for a full-service location, although the Georgia Tech Library is a patent resource center.

The patent office chose Atlanta for its growing economy, central location, startup community, universities, Veterans Affairs hospital, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rooms With a View

A 40-story hotel connected to Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center highlights new options for Georgia travelers.

A pedestrian walkway will provide access to the convention center from the 976 rooms at Signia by Hilton Atlanta, opening in mid-January. Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the state Economic Development Department, notes that Signia features Georgia’s largest hotel ballroom.

The 453-foot-high building, the tallest hotel built in Atlanta in 40 years, stands on the foundation of the old Georgia Dome.

Also on Explore Georgia’s list of notable early-2024 openings:

Hotel Bardo Savannah
Trilith Guesthouse

Soccer Stars on Trilith Stage

The Trilith Guesthouse could become a soccer destination because the U.S. Soccer Federation has chosen Trilith for its headquarters and national training center.

U.S. Soccer announced in September that it would make the Atlanta area its home but was still seeking a specific location. The search ended Dec. 7 with the announcement that the $228 million, 200-acre, 440-employee facility will be in Fayetteville.

“U.S. Soccer will work with local officials and corporate partners on the ground to engage the vibrant communities in Fayette County and the metro-Atlanta area to build new career pathways to sport, connect with fans, and grow the soccer community,” U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said.

Rivian Rolls with Clayco

Rivian has chosen Clayco as the construction contractor for its $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Social Circle. According to the Dec. 19 announcement, Rivian expects to roll out the first trucks in 2026.

Chicago-based Clayco’s closest office to the 1,800-acre site in Morgan and Walton counties is in Greenville, South Carolina. The company also has an office in Birmingham, Alabama.

Jacobs is the engineer for the project. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is the design architect.

Meanwhile, the $7.6 billion Hyundai Metaplant America in Ellabell has drawn another South Korean parts supplier to southeastern Georgia. Kyungshin plans to open a Savannah factory in February to produce wire harnesses for Hyundai and other automakers.

The Effingham County Industrial Development Authority noted in its announcement Dec. 6 that Kyungshin will be 15 miles from the port and the same distance from the Hyundai plant.

A Broe Group artist rendering shows the future home of Kyungshin in Savannah.

Inland Port Steams Ahead

Cargo bound for the Port of Savannah can save 250 highway miles beginning in 2026, thanks to the Blue Ridge Connector in Gainesville.

The rail terminal in northeastern Georgia will join the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County and a bulk-goods terminal in Bainbridge as Georgia Ports Authority inland ports, which load cargo onto trains to improve efficiency and reduce truck congestion at the seaports.

The Ports Authority on Dec. 5 authorized $127 million for the Gainesville facility, including a $46.8 million federal grant. Atlanta-based Norfolk Southern will provide the rail service.

Plastic on the Move

Houston-based Plastic Express is expanding its operations at the Port of Savannah. The company, which packages and ships plastic resins, plans to invest $80 million and add 200 jobs at its second Savannah facility. It also has a Pooler warehouse. The facility, announced Nov. 30, is due to open in mid-2024.

German Company Injects Manufacturing

German medical manufacturer Gerresheimer is expanding its presence in Fayette County with an $88 million facility that will bring 200 jobs to Peachtree City.

Announced on Dec. 21, the factory will produce autoinjectors for drugs, beginning in the fall.

“Having been an integral part of our community for three decades, Gerresheimer’s decision to grow here speaks volumes about the quality of our workforce, the strength of our local economy, and the supportive environment,” said Darryl Hicks, the chairman of the Fayette County Development Authority.

Gerresheimer already employs 260 people in Peachtree City. A separate expansion, expected to be operational in April, is adding 180 jobs.

Comings and Goings

  • Delta Air Lines has extended its suspension of all flights from New York, Boston, and Atlanta to Israel through March 29 because of the ongoing war.
Chris Womack has been elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Southern Company, effective Dec. 31, 2023. Womack currently serves as president and CEO of Southern Company.
  • The next general manager of the Savannah Convention Center will be Kelvin Moore, who is coming to Georgia in late January from Chicago, where he has run the nation’s largest convention center, McCormick Place. He succeeds Sherrie Spinks, who retired at the end of August.
  • Dec. 31 marked the last day as executive chairman of the board of Southern Co. for Tom Fanning, who took that role after retiring as the company’s president and CEO in the spring. Christopher Womack, who succeeded Fanning as president and CEO, has added the title of chairman of the board.