Jackson Healthcare is one of Georgia’s great success stories, growing in 17 years to become the state’s 18th largest privately held company. As it prepares for perhaps its largest expansion to date, the healthcare and tech company is making a strong commitment to its Alpharetta campus – with a Roman coliseum.
Sparked by the founder’s special connection to Italy, the building would be an expansion on the theme of the company’s existing and extensive on-site fitness center currently called The Coliseum. The building would cost $100 million and would accommodate 1,400 new employees it plans to hire over the next four years. The circular building will contain a pool, gym, restaurant, spray-tanning studio and a masseuse.
In order to compete for the future workforce, suburban office campuses are building on site, amenities that intown companies are promoting as being within walking distance. More and more, today’s employees are less interested in driving and want to be within walking distances to where they want to go, and on a mass transit line. While they don’t have mass transit, suburban cities like Alpharetta have grown to include mixed-use, walkable developments like Avalon and the city’s new downtown, which is currently under construction. And companies like Jackson are actually building those amenities right into their campuses. In this case, a Roman coliseum.
The investment would be a huge commitment to Alpharetta and is likely a sign that new projects like Avalon and the downtown project are a draw for the younger workforce. It also says that Jackson believes that the northern suburbs will be able to supply it with the workforce it needs to compete in its industry. And I know they are interested in that. I sit on the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s Steering Committee on workforce development with their CTO Tim Aligheri. We are called the Talent Coalition. Tim, along with others in the corporate community of North Fulton, are working to make sure our technical colleges and universities are graduating students with the specific skill-sets to thrive at their companies.
It’s an interesting committee and I’ve learned a lot from it. Technologies are evolving so fast that many four-year universities are having trouble making their tech curriculum relevant to current industry needs. So companies are having to hire employees and then train them on specific tasks. We call this a skills gap. On the Chamber’s Talent Coalition, we’ll identify a skills gap and then take that to one of our technical colleges, like Gwinnett Tech, to see if they can offer classes in the specified task. And they’ll either look into offering the class, or they’ll tell us that they offer it, but that there are not a lot of students singing up for it. In which case, we might go to the K-12 educators to let them know that there are high-paying tech jobs waiting for students who might only need a two-year degree. Fulton County Schools’ proposed STEM campus will target just that need. If you have not read about it yet, look it up. It’s going to be a very cool project.
While intown companies will argue that they have easy access to walkable restaurants, coffee shops and mass transit, it is very hard for them to argue against some of the suburbs like Alpharetta and the rest of North Fulton as being the best places to raise a family.
“It’s a great place to live, raise a family, the entertainment, everything else you want is here,” said Jackson President Shane Jackson. “The word energy really comes to mind.”