Why Decatur GA is the center of the word of mouth universe

By Ted Wright September 6, 2013


By Ted Wright

So, Jeff Bezos is moving 30,000 employees into a part of Seattle (pop. 680,000) that no one has really ever heard of and few think of working there. Similarly, but on a much smaller scale, last year Fizz moved our entire company into the City of Decatur, a part of Atlanta that rarely conjures up the thought “business center.” In doing so, we bought a 10,000SF building making our move more than a decision, but rather a commitment to be in Decatur for at least the next 20 years.

Why would a business with clients around the world chose to HQ in a part of town that few outside of Atlanta have heard of?  The answer might provide some food for thought to other entrepreneurs, so here are Fizz’s reasons:

Decatur is a recruiting tool.

Decatur is cool again. With a selection of Beard nominated restaurants, interesting boutiques and functioning art galleries, Decatur has become like one of those working environments that you really only see in movies. When we are recruiting someone from outside Atlanta, a conversation with members of our staff while walking around Decatur is always a part of the process. Nothing sells the idea of coming to work at Fizz like having a pleasant stroll through Decatur while discussing someone’s future. Try doing that in Buckhead, Smyrna or Perimeter.

The commute does not suck.

You always hear people complaining about the traffic in Atlanta. Well, if you live 20 miles from your office and reside in any city of 6,000,000 plus, traffic happens. Been on the 405 in LA or “The Ike” in Chicago?  What was interesting about our move to Decatur is that lots of people have their home, school and/or church life there. They were just waiting to have their work life there as well. It changes people’s lives when their commute goes from 15 minutes RT to 30-45 minutes (each way) depending on traffic. Once people are at our offices, everything they need for the rest of the day is walkable – lunch, medical, day care, coffee, whatever.

We get dozens of inquiries a month from very qualified people who live in the neighborhoods around Decatur and would like to explore coming to work for us. Currently, 85% of our work force can walk to work and about 1/3 do on any given day. Every employee can access our office via the MARTA train and a quick walk.

The government works for you.

OK, it’s not always rose petals and unicorns. The City of Decatur is bureaucratic. Sometimes hilariously/irritatingly so. However, if you are willing to work with the system, the system will work with you. Seriously, if we have a problem or question, we find the person in the City tasked to handle that issue and it gets handled. Good luck getting the same results if you have to deal with many of the other jurisdictions that make up “Atlanta”.

Clearly, I’m a fan. What surprised me enough to write this post is how much of a fan I have become and how much value we have gotten out of moving into Decatur.  So come check out the environs on this side of town sometime. It’s a great place to site a business.

(Nope, I wasn’t paid to write this nor do we work for the City, but given my enthusiasm I can see why you might think that.)

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