It’s not exactly Amazon HQ2, but there is a little sweepstakes developing for cities in winning the location for a new initiative from the U.S. Army. On Wednesday, the entire Georgia Congressional delegation – Democrats and Republican, House and Senate – signed a letter to the Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, urging him to consider making metro Atlanta the home for the Army’s new Futures Command.
The Futures Command is a strategic piece of a broader effort to modernize Army practices – particularly the research, development and procurement of new equipment – and bring an innovation mindset to the Army. “The Georgia delegation applauds your efforts in modernizing the U.S. Army and improving the acquisition process to give our soldiers the needed equipment to fight, and overwhelmingly win, in combat,” the letter reads. In announcing the new initiative, the Army also noted the winning city must have access to both academia and business expertise.
The letter from the Georgia delegation notes Atlanta’s position as the largest hub for the private sector and innovation in the Southeast. “Members of Congress from Georgia are dedicated to supporting our servicemen and women, and in doing so, we urge you to fully consider the numerous resources available to Futures Command in Atlanta,” the letter continues.
Georgia and metro Atlanta in particular have a long history with the Army in this area. Prominent Army tech leaders like Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications and Honeywell all have prominent operations in metro Atlanta. It is the 5th-largest employment center for IT in the U.S. and also happens to be home to the CDC – which is an important resource for national defense to prepare for possible biological threats.
As far as updating and bringing innovation to Army business practices, the tight corporate culture of Atlanta also offers a number of opportunities. It is home to the third-most Fortune 500 companies of any city in the U.S. and can provide insight into modernized business.
Georgia Tech already partners with the Department of Defense in a number of areas and is consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the nation for engineering programs. It is ranked #1 in Industrial/Manufacturing and #2 in Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical engineering – this particular expertise has led to billions worth of contracts in developing rocketry and space tech at the Georgia Tech campus now located adjacent to Lockheed-Martin.
The winning city will certainly get a boost and the ultimate economic impact that could develop out of the project has a lot of potential but as the online trade magazine for the defense industry, Breaking Defense, put it, “the winning city may hardly even notice.” As Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters when he announced the project, “It’s not going to be an 800-person command.” It will more likely be a “lease….a couple floors in a high-rise, as opposed to a massive building that we own.” The development would still attract much attention and economic development potential.
To see the full letter from Georgia’s Congressional delegations, see here: https://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/69aea136-666f-4f2c-935a-0f59c484def3/Letter%20to%20Gen.%20Esper%20re%20Futures%20Command.pdf