Where is the largest concentration of Fortune 1000 CEOs in the country? It’s Sandy Springs, where we record our show. Kinda fitting, right? Sandy Springs has the largest concentration of Fortune 1000 CEOs of any municipality in the country, boasting twenty-four headquarters. In speaking with the head of the Chamber here, I wanted to take a look at what makes a location great for a company headquarters, and what benefits a company might find in housing near other successful companies.
As a CEO, choosing a home for your business can be one of the key elements in your success or failure. In today’s world, there are more options than ever before. Ease of communication makes it easier to do business all over the world. More and more businesses are opting to forgo a brick and mortar home altogether in favor of virtual employees and regular company retreats. With so many options, what choice should you make for your business?
Build Strong Relationships
Being part of a thriving local economic ecosystem also gives you and your team access to powerful business relationships. The second part of our show always focuses on the relationships that make your business work. Relationships make or break a business, and basing your business in a location where there are plenty of in-person contacts to be made can help build those key interactions and partnerships.
Sandy Springs was incorporated 12 years ago, and the chamber was started nine years ago. In the seven years he’s been at the helm, Mahaffey has done an incredible job of building relationships between companies, having built the chamber from 191 members in 2011 to 655 members currently. Mahaffey says, “I knocked on every door and had to build a relationship and get each company involved.” Look for communities that have great connectors.
For Howell, having these relationships is essential to running an organization that works. Funding, she says, is what keeps her up at night, and relationships are the way that problem gets solved. “My job is not five days a week, 9-5. It’s seven days a week, attending these events. It’s meeting other CEOs, it’s forming those relationships.”
The Rainforest is a fantastic book about creating a technology ecosystem, such as what occurred in Silicon Valley, and is budding here in the Atlanta metro. We want Amazon! While the authors don’t say that being in a common location is imperative, they do say that relationships are essential, and that sharing a geographic location can make those relationships all that much easier to foster. They also say that having a “keystone”, or a person or organization that connects other people, is crucial. A great geographic location for business often boasts many of these people and organizations.
Which brings us to another key piece of the ecosystem – workforce development. The survival of Every Woman Works is dependent on successful relationships, and the funding that comes from those relationships, but organizations like hers bring a crucial piece to the success of the local business ecosystem as well. Both Every Woman Works and the Chamber of Commerce play a key role in workforce development.
Every Woman Works helps train and support women who are facing a variety challenges in taking on the next step in their career. Some of the women benefit from basic computer skills and job training, while others come to the organization with masters degrees, looking for a career transition that will serve their current stage in life. Whatever the case, Every Woman Works supports them in their next steps – and provides the local economy with a variety of skilled and confident workers.
The chamber also has educational initiatives that support the local ecosystem. They have women’s business initiatives, keynote speakers, and outreach programs to local schools. Recently they launched the “CEO for a day” program, focusing on school administrators and counselors. Explains Mahaffey, “We take them to four different businesses throughout one day, so they actually get to meet the HR director, the CEO or President, CIO. In other words, there’s a lot of interaction. So the principals now get to see what is it that companies are looking for.”
This helps the school administrators understand what companies need, and allows them to provide a focus on those skills in their students. Says Mahaffey, “Every company has something different that they’re looking for in their employees. So there’s a lot to go around.” While the specifics may vary from company to company, a prevailing theme is soft skills. Involving the school system in developing employees is an integral part of what the Sandy Springs Chamber provides in developing a long-term sustainable economic ecosystem in which Fortune 1000 companies can survive.
No business is the same, and one of the things that makes Sandy Springs stand out is the focus on getting to know the businesses that call it home on a individual basis. Mahaffey seeks to get to know each business individually, and bases the programs that the Chamber develops on the needs of the members. Mahaffey says, “We actually have a relationship with these companies, and they will identify what their company needs, what they’re striving to do. We build programs, initiatives, committees, or fun events, around the businesses. “
A lot goes into choosing a home for your business, and finding the right home is a choice that is unique for each business. There’s not one-size-fits-all in finding a perfect location. Know what your goals are, know your team, and pick a home that will work to serve both of those things.