Bob Pertierra (left), supply-chain vide president for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Fred Bryant, executive director of the Forest Park/Fort Gillem Local Redevelopment Authority.
Three businesses that may bring several thousand jobs to Clayton County are in talks to move to Fort Gillem, according to the head of Fort Gillem’s redevelopment authority.
The companies — all of which are staying anonymous by using code names — say they could bring 500 to 1,000 jobs each and that they could move in by next year or the year after, according to Fred Bryant, executive director of the Forest Park/Fort Gillem Local Redevelopment Authority.
“We hope for two of these companies, if not all three, in the next few months to give us letters of commitment,” Bryant said.
Bryant made his comments Wednesday at a Clayton State University conference devoted to supply-chain logistics, the business of how manufacturers move their wares from factories to customers.
Experts speaking at the seminar — the first given by Clayton State’s new Center for Supply Chain Management — agreed that Clayton County was in a prime position to take advantage of the growth in logistics business.
“There’s a golden triangle for logistics. You draw a line between the airport, Norfolk Southern and Fairburn, and Clayton is right on that line,” said Bob Pertierra, supply-chain vide president for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Speakers agreed that the logistics business will give Clayton County thousands of jobs, opportunities to learn, and increased tax revenue over the next decade.
A reborn Fort Gillem, which closed as a military base in 2005 and is to be developed as a logistics center after Forest Park buys it from the U.S. Army, will play a pivotal role in Clayton’s growth, according to Bryant.
“This is going to revitalize the supply chain, logistics and transportation of what the city and this part of the county has always been,” Bryant said after his talk. “And this is going to create skilled jobs. We’re not talking about people who are going to get minimum wage.”
When Fort Gillem is built out over the next 10 to 15 years, Bryant said he anticipates the creation of 3,000 to 4,000 new jobs.
Getting these businesses to commit is important because the U.S. Army won’t sell Fort Gillem to Forest Park unless it has some idea of how many jobs selling the base will create.
“There’s a lot of stuff to be done that people just don’t think about,” Bryant told seminar participants. “I’ll get calls from developers that say, well, when can you sign a letter of commitment? And I’ll say when I get a final commitment from the army.”
He said he hopes to have enough of an idea of who wants to move into Fort Gillem to be able to finalize its purchase from the army by September.
Within the next day or two, Bryant said, he expects to have completed a new “conceptual site plan” — a layout for how the property will be organized — to support new move-ins and “give some continuity and synergy to what’s going on.” Fort Gillem will be divided into five “sites” or “campuses,” with an office park containing classrooms and an office for Clayton State’s Center for Supply Chain Management to be located where the First Army Headquarters was.
Bryant also said that the authority is in “preliminary discussions” with Clayton County Public Schools to send its students there to use a classroom facility to be built on site.
“This would ensure that the public school system and the university have some visibility on the site,” Bryant said.
The educational opportunities are excellent, said Pertierra, citing a U.S. News & World Report survey that listed logisticians — workers skilled in supply-chain logistics — as one of the 50 best careers of the future. He also noted a 134-percent growth in international cargo out of Hartsfield since the 1996 Olympics as evidence of the field’s potential.
“The world’s more complex, supply chains are lengthier, and you need people to manage them,” Pertierra said.
Also speaking at the conference were Robert McQueston of Delta Air Lines Air Cargo and Tom Beaty of Insight Sourcing Group.