Sunday, August 14, 2022

Norfolk Southern has finalized plans to move to Atlanta

NORFOLK– Norfolk Southern on Wednesday announced plans to move its headquarters to Atlanta.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal also confirmed the news.

Deal announced the company’s plans Wednesday afternoon at the Georgia Capitol.

To create its new headquarters, Norfolk Southern is in advanced discussions to buy a site from Cousins Properties at 650 West Peachtree St. NW, in the heart of Midtown Atlanta’s growing intersection of corporate, technological, and academic power, according to a news release from the company.

In addition, Norfolk Southern intends to “engage” Cousins Properties to manage the development of its new headquarters.

Details of this engagement are expected during the first quarter of 2019.

Progress on Norfolk Southern’s move to Atlanta has already started and will span the next several years as the new headquarters is constructed.

“Alignment, collaboration, and accountability are the hallmarks of Norfolk Southern’s plan to transform this company and its culture. Our new headquarters in Atlanta advances these key elements of success,” said Jim Squires, chairman, president and chief executive officer, addressing employees Wednesday.

Squires concluded, “Norfolk Southern values Atlanta’s vitality and looks forward to contributing more of our own energy to its business, social, and community environments.”

Records from Atlanta’s economic development authority indicate the company proposes construction of a new headquarters campus with 750,000 square feet (69,600 square meters) of office space in the city’s Midtown area.

The project would involve about 850 full-time workers relocating to Atlanta.

Norfolk Southern’s railroad subsidiary operates in 22 states and the District of Columbia, transporting freight that includes automotive and industrial products and coal.

The move reflects a broader trend among larger companies that are moving to major cities for their deeper pools of talent, busier airports and other amenities that attract skilled workers.

Robert McNab, an economics professor with Old Dominion University in Norfolk, said Norfolk Southern’s decision reflects the same qualities online retailer Amazon was looking for while scouting locations for its second headquarters.

Similar moves have been made by Caterpillar from Peoria, Illinois, to suburban Chicago. Boeing also moved its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago.

“What we’re seeing across the United States and really across the world is that as corporations become more global and complex, they need an area that offers your work force a high quality of living,” McNab said. “But also you need the ability to travel. You need an airport that goes anywhere.”

The impact of the company’s move on Norfolk and the surrounding Hampton Roads’ region will be more psychological than it is economic, McNab said.

The area is losing hundreds of well-paying jobs as well as people who had served on charitable boards and as mentors. But the number is a minute fraction of the area’s 790,000 jobs.

More notable is the loss of a Fortune 500 company in a region that only had three. The remaining two are Dollar Tree and Huntington Ingalls Industries, which builds the Navy’s aircraft carriers.

Norfolk city officials were not immediately available for comment.

Norfolk Southern’s corporate headquarters opened in Norfolk in 1988.

Norfolk Southern’s railroad subsidiary operates in 22 states and the District of Columbia, transporting freight that includes automotive and industrial products and coal.

Norfolk Southern formed in 1982 as a merger between The Southern Railway and the Norfolk & Western Railway. The railroad then opened its headquarters in Norfolk. Southern had its headquarters in Washington and N&W in Roanoke, Virginia.

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