Like other Southern states, Georgia is out to attract auto manufacturing investments. But it also has its eye on a bigger prize: people.
Georgia's largest city, Atlanta, has been cultivating a young workforce of technology talent that automotive companies are looking for, and state officials are working with companies to tap into that pool.
Universities within a four-hour radius of Atlanta are turning out more than 10,000 new engineering graduates a year - a third of them from Atlanta's own Georgia Institute of Technology, says Mike Grundmann, director of automotive and advanced manufacturing at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. To encourage many of them to live in Atlanta, the state, Georgia Tech and private-sector interests have been developing "live-work-play" communities around downtown. Over the past 10 years, Georgia Tech's "Tech Square" has been expanded beyond the university limits into the city's Midtown area. Today, the effort consists of a collection of incubators and innovation centers, with automotive playing a key role.
"The idea is to be close to the students and create a collaboration area where companies and young people can interact," Grundmann said.
Among the companies that have opened an innovation center in Tech Square is Panasonic Automotive Systems. General Motors added its own innovation center in suburban Atlanta about five years ago.
Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and, most recently, PSA Group, now claim Atlanta for their North American headquarters.
"Technology plays a key role in what we're going to do," PSA Group North America CEO Larry Dominique said about why PSA chose Atlanta.
PSA also was attracted by Atlanta itself.
"What is the culture of the city we're going to?" Dominique asked. "How balanced, from a technology mindset, is the university system, the car system, in addition to the quality of life?
"When you roll it all together, it works in Atlanta."