Marietta: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Cobb County has a diverse business base that encompasses manufacturing and distribution, administrative headquarters operations, service industries, and retailers. The booming service economy and the large migration of Northern companies into the South have formed a new class of entrepreneurs. Marietta and Cobb County compete with cities such as Nashville, Birmingham, Charlotte, Dallas, and Fairfax, Virginia, for the attention of relocating businesses. Cobb County has the advantages of relatively low property taxes, as well as the diversity and availability of site and buildings. Marietta offers strong advantages in terms of low costs for building and leasing, as well as a moderate cost of living.

In the early 1990s when Lockheed, the area's largest employer, cut its work force, it didn't seem to faze the community, though in early 2005 more layoffs are predicted due to the proposed federal budget. The mix of new and diverse industries have made the area virtually recession-proof. Besides Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems, other large-scale employers in Cobb County include the Cobb County Public Schools, WellStar Health System, The Home Depot, Cobb County Government, and Publix.

Cobb County is the second most popular visitor destination in Georgia. More than 4 million visitors a year experience the area's attractions and stay in its hotels. Tourism was a $1.2 billion industry in 2001. While tourism increased 1.3 percent from the previous year, figures were still slightly impacted by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Tourism in the area is still experiencing major growth, and is responsible for nearly 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in the county.

Items and goods produced: computer software and hardware, aerospace equipment, aircraft parts, medical devices, printing, construction products, chemicals, plastics, paper products, foodstuffs, telecommunications equipment

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce works to maintain a healthy economy by bringing business and industry to the area and helping established firms grow. Through six Area Councils in the Cumberland, East Cobb, Marietta, North Cobb, Smyrna, and South Cobb areas, the Cobb Chamber unifies and advocates for Cobb's business community. Each council is represented on the Cobb Chamber Board of Directors and promotes grassroots actions. The Cobb Chamber handles administration for the Development Authority of Cobb County and the Cumberland Community Improvement District, which supports the Cumberland Transportation Network.

State programs

Georgia has business-friendly tax laws; the state does not use the unitary tax method, but instead taxes businesses only on income apportioned to Georgia. In addition, the state sales tax rate has risen only one percentage point since 1951. Attractive inventory tax exemptions are available in most metropolitan Atlanta counties, and sales and property tax exemptions are available for certain pollution control equipment used in production. Companies can apply for a permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division which can result in their obtaining their federal permit as well, via a single application.

Job training programs

The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education administers the Georgia Quick Start program, a three-way partnership of Quick Start, one of the state's technical institutions, and a company wishing to start up business in Georgia. By developing and implementing high quality, customized training programs and materials, Quick Start assists the company in obtaining a trained work force ready to begin as soon as the company opens for business.

Development Projects

In late 2004, a new Chattahoochee Tunnel and R.L. Sutton Water Reclamation Facility was put into operation. Begun in 2000, the $113.6 million wastewater project included a 9.5 mile long tunnel and 40-million-gallon-a-day wastewater treatment facility. The new facility is expected to meet the needs of the county through the year 2050.

Also in late 2004, the county purchased the vacant Westpark Plaza shopping center on Whitlock Avenue for $2.8 million. Plans to begin renovation were underway, with an expected finish time of spring 2005; county offices will inhabit the new space. Groundbreaking took place in October 2004 on a new regional library in Marietta's historic Mableton area. As the third of five new library facilities in the county, the $3.7 million building is expected to be completed by early 2006.

Economic Development Information: Cobb Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 671868, Marietta, GA 30006-0032; telephone (770)980-2000

Commercial Shipping

Norfolk Southern and CSX offer freight rail service at Marietta, and piggyback service at Atlanta, 18 miles away. For motor freight, Marietta and Cobb County are part of the Atlanta Commercial Zone, with 11 interstate and 51 inter/intrastate terminals, and 23 local terminals. General aviation aircraft are served by McCollum Field, which can handle operations of small jets and other craft weighing less than 33,000 pounds. The airport has a 4,600-foot bituminous runway and offers aircraft tiedown, airframe and power plant repair, a hangar, and lighted runway.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Low unemployment levels and some of the lowest property tax levels in metro Atlanta continue to assist Marietta and Cobb County in their attractiveness to businesses and residents. Cobb County has metamorphosed from a sleepy bedroom community into the region's driving economic force. Good planning has built a solid infrastructure; Cobb Community Transit operates a bus system and major road improvements are underway. Cobb County is well positioned for further growth and economic expansion.

The following is a summary of data regarding Cobb County's labor force as of 2003.

Size of labor force: 355,501

Number of workers employed in . . .

agriculture and mining: 357

construction: 22,971

manufacturing: 33,496

wholesale and retail trade: 60,726

transportation and public utilities: 23,442

information: 16,380

finance, insurance, and real estate: 27,472

services: 60,123

education, health, and social services: 54,720

arts, entertainment, leisure, and accommodation: 21,128

government: 14,316

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14 (2003 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)

Marietta: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
Cobb County Public Schools 13,799
WellStar Health System 9,900
Lockheed Martin Aeronautical 7,800
The Home Depot, Inc. 6,686
Cobb County Government 5,001
Six Flags Atlanta Properties 2,765
Publix Super Markets 2,600
Naval Air Station-Atlanta 2,500
IBM Corporation 1,400

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Marietta area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $209,258

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 97.0 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 6.0%

State sales tax rate: 4.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: $11.99 per $1000 of fair market value (2003)

Economic Information: Cobb Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 671868, Marietta, GA 30006; telephone (770)980-2000; fax (770) 980-9510; email