Three Reasons Why Atlanta is Ripe for Exporters
By Zaheer Faruqi, Aventure Aviation
Over the past decade, Atlanta has climbed to 64th from 71st amongst the Top 100 United States metros for exports. In fact, export businesses can now be found in every single metro Atlanta county and more than 80 percent of Georgia’s 159 counties.
As the founder of Aventure Aviation, an aircraft spare parts company that has been building an export business since 2001, I’ve seen this growth firsthand. In fact, Aventure has been recognized on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in America, four times in the past five years. In 2016, Aventure has a projected growth of 18 percent in revenue over the previous year. Approximately 80 percent of that revenue is generated from exports.
So, what’s driving metro Atlanta’s ascension to the American industrial big leagues?
First, our region’s infrastructure enables exporters like us to conduct business efficiently and economically. For example, Atlanta is home to the world’s most-traveled airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which offers direct flights to nearly 70 international destinations in more than 45 countries. With close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson, Aventure can deliver parts to our overseas customers faster than our competitors, giving us a significant advantage. Equally important, metro Atlanta’s proximity to the vital Port of Savannah offers great maritime shipping options for exporters.
In addition to physical infrastructure, metro Atlanta has a number of public/private partnerships and programs designed to help companies develop exporting systems. Most notably, the Atlanta Metropolitan Export Plan (MEP) launched in 2015 and is backed by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. This program provides a “toolkit” of resources for companies like mine looking to grow through exports. The plan also includes a $200,000 grant competition, the Metro Export Challenge, which Aventure Aviation won last week. Total, we earned $25,000, which we will primarily use to attend China International Aviation Exhibition held Zhuhai, China. This is Aventure’s second attendance at a major airshow in China, where every major airline carrier in the region will be represented.
Finally, metro Atlanta has a growing and diverse talent pool. Home to 5.7 million people, our region recently ranked fifth in the U.S. for greatest job growth and is the sixth fastest-growing tech job market. Moreover, the region is increasingly international. Between 2000 and 2010, foreign-born residents jumped 69 percent. This was the fourth largest rate of growth among the nation’s top 100 metros. I can attest to these stats, as Aventure Aviation has built our workforce to 35 employees from diverse backgrounds, located in four offices across the world.
As for the future, I predict that our region’s exporting community will grow alongside our expanding economy. My fellow exporters and I can look forward to the deepening of the Savannah Harbor, the outcomes of the recently released Metro Atlanta Foreign Direct Investment Plan, and more – which will all strengthen our region’s reputation as a place to launch and expand export businesses.