Meet the Atlanta Cyber Week Influencers: Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Jorge Fernandez on Atlanta’s Competitive Advantages as a Cyber City

By: Jorge Fernandez, Vice President of Global Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Since we have previously been unable to connect the dots in our global Atlanta cybersecurity story, many foreign companies have not broken through the preconception of success in the U.S. marketplace being linked to a few established gateway cities. Most times, these are markets associated with either a reputation of an ecosystem of industry success or historical national immigration links.

As we travel to foreign markets to tell the Atlanta innovation story, we have invariably confronted the reality that even while attending events featuring our core innovation ecosystem clusters, the marketplace is not aware of all that Atlanta offers.

A recent Brookings report on metro Atlanta foreign direct investment establishes our region as a gateway for foreign-owned enterprises (FOEs). Metro Atlanta boasts some major global advantages. Most importantly, the region has unparalleled access to markets thorough an extensive network of ground, air and sea transportation options, the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the U.S., numerous globally-minded professional service providers, low cost of living and a higher education system that offers new technologies. There are also R&D opportunities in partnership with 70 colleges and universities and seven technical colleges.

Despite these gateway assets, there is the notion that Atlanta’s desirability as a base of operations is almost exclusively due to the ranking of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) as the most traveled airport in the world. This is a solid story on its own, but it is not enough. The success of our HJAIA gateway extends well beyond the confines of its runways and is a story that many FOEs are missing. The story is about foreign firms that can scale, connect and find enduring support in our thriving, innovative ecosystems while finding a quality of place that attracts the talent these companies need. The story is about metro Atlanta being part of something special on a global scale. We are not only one of the top global hubs for cybersecurity, but also high-ranking in sectors such as financial technology, advanced manufacturing, health IT and IoT applications that necessarily interlock in a world of cyber concerns.

Our story is anchored on an economy of $339 billion. Putting it in context, it is the 34th largest economy in the world. The story of Atlanta’s success boasts a regional global commerce of more than $26.7 billion in exports and 1,850 Foreign Owned Enterprises (FOE) employing approximately 107,000 Georgians in metro Atlanta according to the Brookings Export Nation report. The Economic Modeling report shows that 18 percent of the IT innovative sector is attributed to FOEs. Even with these successes, a lot more can be done to heighten international awareness that metro Atlanta is a top venue for global commerce. Specifically, there is an opportunity at hand to build up the cybersecurity ecosystem for innovative foreign technology startups.

The first annual Atlanta Cyber Week marks the beginning of a concerted effort to connect the dots in our cybersecurity ecosystem and contribute to the story of metro Atlanta as a top venue for global commerce.

Registration for Atlanta Cyber Week events, including Cybercon, will close very soon. We encourage CISOs, startups and others involved in the cybersecurity community to sign up for the events they plan on attending ASAP. Spaces are limited. Visit www.atlcyberweek.com and cybercon.us for more information.