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CarMax to Create More Than 300 Jobs in Peachtree Corners



CarMax Customer Experience Center

CarMax Now Hiring for New Customer Experience Center Opening in the city

Updated 3/7/19

Gov. Brian Kemp this week announced that CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, will create more than 300 jobs for their new Customer Experience Center opening in Peachtree Corners early this summer. Over the next few months CarMax will hire customer experience consultants, assistants and managers to work at the new center located at 5707 Peachtree Parkway

“As a member of Georgia’s corporate family, it is exciting to see CarMax expand operations and create more jobs for hardworking Georgians,” said Governor Kemp. “This investment will ensure greater opportunities for metro-Atlanta’s talented and diverse workforce while providing an innovative service to car buyers across the state and surrounding region.”

CarMax has had an established presence in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and currently employs approximately 2,000 Georgians. In December 2018, CarMax announced the Peachtree Corners rollout of a new customer-driven buying experience the company plans to scale nationwide. Through this new experience, customers can buy a car on their terms, whether they want to buy a car completely from home, in-store, or a seamless combination of both.

Employees at the new Customer Experience Center in Peachtree Corners will assist customers over the phone or online to help them find their ideal vehicle, navigate financing, and provide any assistance needed until the customer is ready to either go to an area store for pickup or schedule a home delivery.

“We are pleased to have CarMax’s new Customer Experience Center bring over 300 jobs to our city,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “As a regional job hub, our city continues to attract top-tiered businesses like CarMax.”

“Atlanta is one of our oldest and most important markets, and we’ve found a strong and diverse talent pipeline in the area,” said Diane Cafritz, CarMax Chief Human Resources Officer. “We’re confident we’ll find great new associates who are excited about redefining car buying for our customers in fun, growth-focused environment.”

CarMax is looking for driven, customer-focused individuals with strong communications and sales skills to work in the new Atlanta Customer Experience Center. No previous automotive experience is required. In addition, the company is recruiting for Spanish bilingual candidates to fill approximately a third of the open roles. Individuals who want to help make a difference in customers’ lives and start redefining their own career journey can visit jobs.carmax.com to apply. For 15 consecutive years, CarMax has been recognized as a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For, and the company also has been recognized by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a Top Workplace for four years in a row.

“CarMax is continuing to change the way consumers buy cars with their fresh approach to combining innovative technology with the expertise and help that their employees provide customers,” said Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash. “Gwinnett’s talented workforce and strategic location create the ideal environment for pioneering companies like CarMax to succeed.”

“CarMax’s new Customer Experience Center will be a welcome addition to Gwinnett County and our region’s existing CarMax locations,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Hala Moddelmog. “Here, they will be able to take advantage of metro Atlanta’s strong innovation and technology ecosystem and our reputation as the home of a talented and diverse workforce.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Sr. Project Manager Randall Toussaint represented the Global Commerce Division in partnership with Partnership Gwinnett, Quick Start, Metro Atlanta Chamber and Georgia Power.

“We are excited that an outstanding company like CarMax is expanding its footprint in Georgia,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “CarMax has been rated one of the best places to work and has an excellent reputation as a great corporate citizen. We are looking forward to working with CarMax as they open their new Customer Experience Center in Peachtree Corners.”

“Gwinnett has a strong technology and innovation ecosystem,” said Partnership Gwinnett project manager Megan Wing. “The new CarMax Customer Experience Center makes the perfect addition to this network and we look forward to their continued success here.”

“We are pleased to have CarMax’s new Customer Experience Center bring over 300 new jobs to Peachtree Corners,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “As a regional job hub, our city continues to be a draw for top-tiered businesses, including Fortune 100 companies like CarMax.”

About CarMax

CarMax is the nation’s largest retailer of used cars and operates more than 200 stores in 41 states nationwide. CarMax revolutionized the auto industry by delivering the honest, transparent and high-integrity car buying experience customers want and deserve. For more than 25 years, CarMax has made car buying more ethical, fair and stress-free by offering a no-haggle, no-hassle experience and an incredible selection of vehicles. CarMax makes selling your car easy too, by offering no-obligation appraisals good for seven days. At CarMax, we’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy ours®. CarMax has approximately 25,000 associates nationwide and for 15 consecutive years has been named as one of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®. During the 12 months ending February 28, 2018, the company retailed 721,512 used cars and sold 408,509 wholesale vehicles at its in-store auctions. For more information, access the CarMax website at www.carmax.com.

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City as Living Lab



autonomous vehicles in Peachtree Corners
Technology Parkway is being reconfigured to create an intelligent mobility test track that will run alongside regular traffic. Entrances and brightly painted lanes are planned for this “living laboratory” being created by the city in partnership with Sprint. Rendering courtesy of City of Peachtree Corners

Intelligent vehicle test track brings the future, and the world, to Peachtree Corners

The little orange flags on stakes along Technology Parkway are modest harbingers of the huge change coming to the Peachtree Corners road.

The city is reconfiguring the road to create a 1.5-mile intelligent mobility test track that will be used to develop and test self-driving vehicles, intelligent mobility and IoT (internet of things) technologies. The test site is the only one of its kind in Georgia, and it may be the only one like it in the country.

Driverless vehicle testing is typically conducted in isolated research environments such as empty parking lots. But the test lanes on Technology Parkway will run alongside regular traffic, separated only by flexible bollards, or sticks, and interacting with vehicles and pedestrians at intersections.

“5G is a world of the future and we’re still trying to figure it out. So, testbeds and living labs like this … are absolutely vital to the growth.”
Cynthia Curry, director of IoT Ecosystem for the Metro Chamber

First announced a year ago, the research site is part of an economic development mission to help reinvigorate the technology park it winds through, Technology Park Atlanta.

Mayor Mike Mason
Photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images

Mayor Mike Mason expects it do that and much more. “The short-term benefit is that it will provide an energy, a synergy, if you will, for high-tech businesses to establish their businesses in Technology Park to create and develop AV (advanced vehicle) technologies,” Mason said.

“Long-term, we see the Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners to have a ripple effect that expands well beyond our city limits to neighboring cities, counties, regionally and even statewide,” he said. “There is no other living laboratory like this in the state that is available for companies to research, develop and test their intelligent mobility concepts.”

Sprinting to Peachtree Corners

In January, communications giant Sprint signed on as a partner to the test track, bringing its super-fast, high-capacity mobile 5G to the city’s initiative and giving the site a trademarked name, “Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.” 5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, will provide the bandwidth needed to test vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and over-the-horizon warnings, Sprint said in a press release.

Curiosity Lab was first unveiled on Jan. 8 as one of three 5G, IoT partnerships announced by Sprint at the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The press release from the event quotes Ivo Rook, Sprint’s senior vice president of IoT, who said, “This is much more than self-driving cars.

“Sprint is bringing together Curiosity IoT, micropositioning and HD mapping, all enabled by our upcoming mobile 5G network, to develop and test the most advanced technologies in the industry,” Rook said, in the release. “We are honored to work with Peachtree Corners to drive AI, robotics and autonomous.”

Peachtree Corners officials showed video they shot at CES during a Jan. 15 press conference at City Hall, a facility that sits directly adjacent to the test track’s path at 310 Technology Parkway.

In an interview on the video, Rook says he is unaware of anything like Curiosity Lab. “What I love about Peachtree Corners is the fact that they’re bringing together a laboratory environment, an environment where companies can actually invest and try things out, but they’re marrying that with the real life,” Rook said. “So, this is the only initiative that I know where basically the test track meets the public road.”

Inquiries are coming in to Curiosity Lab from across the country. There’s interest in testing everything from drones, to solar panels on roads that charge electric vehicles as they drive, to robots that deliver packages and even individual flying machines. (Think “The Jetsons.”)

City Manager Brian Johnson

“People don’t realize — we didn’t until we got involved in this, too — there is a lot larger of an industry in the future to move goods by autonomous vehicles than people,” Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian L. Johnson said. “… All of this V2X, ’vehicle-to-everything,’ requires 5G because 4G does not have enough bandwidth to do this.” Vehicle-to-everything communication is the transfer of information between a vehicle and any entity that may affect the vehicle such as infrastructure, networks, pedestrians and other vehicles.

How it all started

Incorporated in 2012, the city of Peachtree Corners is a planned community that began in the late 1960s, with Technology Park Atlanta, a low-rise campus for high-tech industries, at the core of its 17 square miles. “Companies, specifically tech companies, are the bedrock on which this city was formed from,” Johnson said.

Legendary tech pioneer and Georgia Tech grad Paul Duke proposed Peachtree Corners as a way to attract engineering firms to Georgia and keep Georgia Tech engineering graduates from leaving the state to find work. And today, “The city’s focus on technology is citywide,” Johnson said.

Like many other cities, Peachtree Corners deploys smart city technology such as sensors that can alert when a parking space is available and sensors in public trash cans that can report when they need to be emptied.
Technology Park Atlanta is now home to 49 technology companies, 18 biotech businesses and 84 international companies.

“We have about 45,000 people and about 45,000 jobs,” Johnson said. “It’s very rare for a city to be in a one-to-one ratio scenario. You’re usually considered to be a jobs hub … or vice, versa, where you’re considered to be a bedroom community.”

Peachtree Corners’ robust business community is one of the reasons the city is able to have a full-service government that charges no city taxes, Johnson said. “Very few cities have no property tax,” he said, “and most of the ones that are like us are not near our size. … The healthier the [business] environment is, the healthier our non-business environment is.”

While the city’s origins are part of what led it to where it is today, the other driving force is the way Peachtree Corners approaches economic development, Johnson said. “There’s typically three conventional legs to economic development — recruitment, retention and expansion,” Johnson said. “This city has embraced a fourth leg, and that is creation.”

Becoming an innovation hub

In June 2017, the city approved plans to transform Technology Park Atlanta, commonly known as Tech Park, into a center for innovation.

“When we became a city in 2012, we didn’t inherit a high-tech hot spot. We inherited an aging, suburban office park,” Mayor Mason said, at the city’s Curiosity Lab press conference. “We knew that, and we were determined to change it, which led us to create the Innovation Hub Master Plan.”

The plan calls for research institutions, entrepreneurial training, professional networks, enhanced walkability, mixed uses and public spaces. The city aims to promote collaboration with like-minded business owners and employees in gathering places such as coffee shops and parks within Tech Park’s 500 acres.

Parts of a multiuse trail have been completed in the area. And the 295-unit Echo Lakeside apartment complex was intentionally built within Tech Park to enable millennials — who tend to want to live near their jobs — to walk or bicycle from home to their Tech Park offices.

Full time Prototype Prime consultant
Betsy Plattenburg and City Councilmember Alex Wright

Prototype Prime

Curiosity Lab is the second step in the city’s master plan to re-establish Tech Park Atlanta as an innovation hub. The first step was the city’s 2015 creation of the 25,000-square-foot technology incubator, Prototype Prime, directly adjacent to Curiosity Lab, at 147 Technology Parkway.

The nonprofit supports early stage technology startups with rental space and services such as legal and marketing assistance. Mason said it “epitomizes an innovation hub.”

“Prototype Prime was an empty building and a concept that is now a job creator, an event space, and an educational site,” he said.

A regional affiliate of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech, it’s one of three incubators and business accelerators now operating in the city, all of which are located within Tech Park. The others are privately owned.

After Prototype Prime’s launch, the city decided it would be advantageous for the incubator to target a specific technology, Johnson said.

From there, things happened quickly. City Council members settled on intelligent mobility. Betsy Plattenburg, who worked at ATDC and is a senior consultant to Prototype Prime, suggested adding a research component.

The city announced the intelligent mobility test track last April, committing to a $2 million investment. And today, Prototype Prime is recruiting startups across the country who can be connected with corporate partners in the self-driving vehicle ecosystem.

After the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce heard about the city’s intelligent mobility plans, Peachtree Corners representatives were invited to join the chamber’s delegation to the Smart City Expo held Nov. 11-15 in Barcelona, Spain.

Cynthia Curry, director of IoT Ecosystem for the Metro Chamber, spoke at the city’s Curiosity Lab press conference, saying it will provide vital opportunities for testing to move the IoT system forward and generate jobs.

“5G is a world of the future and we’re still trying to figure it out. So, testbeds and living labs like this … are absolutely vital to the growth,” Curry said. “We’re just thrilled to have this in our region. It helps us ensure and kind of reinforce our position as the number one state to do business. … I can’t wait to see what comes out of this, and I can’t wait to see all the companies that get to benefit from it.”

Plattenburg said Curiosity Lab has received significant interest from universities, Fortune 500 companies and startups from around the country who want to test emerging IoT technologies for smart cities, connected vehicles and other mobility concepts. “They are excited to discover that they can use the track and innovation space at Prototype Prime for as little as a few days or as long as a year — whatever it takes to move their technology from concept to market,” she said.

Coding schools, for adults and kids

One of the startups’ biggest needs is software engineers, according to Plattenburg. “Almost every tech startup needs to hire people who can code, and good talent is hard to find,” she said.

Web development employment is projected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Peachtree Corners is already planting the seeds to help fill some of those positions.

“In creating the innovation hub plan, the city realized that helping citizens train or retrain to fill open positions would be valuable for everyone and made a focused effort to provide local coding education,” Plattenburg said.

The Professional Education division of Georgia Tech was signed on to conduct a “Coding Boot Camp” for adults at Prototype Prime. Its first round of classes, which started in January, sold out. About 40 students take classes two nights a week and on Saturdays for 24 weeks.

They will team up to work in a simulated professional work environment, building complex projects and applications to bolster their portfolios. They’ll also have access to career services such as resume and social media support, technical interview prep and portfolio reviews. The program, with a price tag of $10,000, is designed for people who are currently working or want to change careers.

Prototype Prime will also host a STEM-related summer camp for kids that starts on June 10. Roswell-based Kids 4 Coding will offer coding classes and other technology-related activities for kids ages 7-16 at the incubator.

Other kids will be reached through the incubator’s just-announced partnership with Paul Duke STEM High School, a new school that opened in Norcross last fall. Mentoring and other opportunities will be provided “so students can see what’s next for the future generation of technology,” Plattenburg said.

Left to right, Council-member Weare Gratwick, Mayor Mike Mason, City councilmembers
Phil Sadd and Alex Wright meet at City Hall during a January press conference where Sprint and the City announced their partnership on an intelligent vehicle test track which will feature Sprint’s 5G technology.
Photos by JASON GETZ/Getz Images

Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

The city expects Curiosity Lab to take about four months to build. The track will run along Technology Parkway, from Peachtree Parkway to Spalding Drive.

Plans are underway for entrances to the site. “Later in the year, look for brightly painted lanes, digital signage and other visual cues that you are entering an innovation environment that will help to discover and define technologies of tomorrow,” Plattenburg said.

The test track is unique in that the city owns 100 percent of the roadway and right of way, she said. “What the city is creating out here on Technology Parkway is the opportunity for companies large and small to test things of the future and see how they will interact with people and with other vehicles, with traffic lights, with street lights, with everything that you would find in a city,” Plattenburg said.

Curiosity Lab will offer subject matter experts on site and will provide access to the 5G network to Prototype Prime startups. Existing companies in Tech Park will also be able to take advantage of 5G, getting it significantly ahead of the rest of the metro Atlanta, she said.

“We’re looking forward to Sprint helping our startups figure out how to utilize 5G,” Plattenburg said at the Curiosity Lab press conference, which was attended by Sprint IoT sales representative Steven Payne. Payne said Sprint is excited to partner with the city on Curiosity Lab.

“We’re looking forward to, over the next couple of years, not only the technologies that are born out of this park,” Payne said, “but just the innovations and the recognition and economic development it will bring to Peachtree Corners.” ■

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Town Center’s Newest Eatery, Salata Salad Kitchen Celebrates with Ribbon Cutting



Salata Salad

City leaders and local dignitaries joined Salata Salad Kitchen owners and staff recently to celebrate the opening of the city’s newest restaurant which is located at the Peachtree Corners Town Center.

The new eatery offers tossed-to-order salads and wraps, soups, organic teas and lemonade, breads and cookies. All fruits and vegetables are fresh and chopped daily in-house. Salad offerings include five salad bases, more than 50 toppings and 10 house-made, gluten-free dressings.  A variety of flavored iced teas are available at the “Tea Tap” along with other beverages.

Located at 5210 Town Center Boulevard, the Houston-based business was founded in 2005 and has over 65 franchise locations in the U.S. The company held a ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday, Feb. 6 for its Peachtree Corners location.

Mayor Mike Mason, Councilmembers Phil Sadd (Post 1), Lorri Christopher (Post 5) and Weare Gratwick (Post 6 and Mayor Pro Tem), along with members of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber and Peachtree Corners Business Association were on hand for the grand opening.

“We are delighted to welcome Salata Salad Kitchen to our city,” said Councilmember Gratwick. “It is a great addition to our Town Center that, when complete, will feature a number of restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues for our community to enjoy.”

The 3,000 square-foot restaurant seats 72 indoors and has an 800 square-foot outdoor patio that seats an additional 32. The Peachtree Corners location marks the seventh location in the Atlanta metro area and 83rd for the company.

The following day, Feb. 7, the company held a celebration that was open to the public and donated 25 percent of its opening day sales to the Robert D. Fowler Family YMCA.

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Department of Commerce Invests $1.8 Million in Prototype Prime



Prototype Prime

Funds to Expand the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.8 million grant to the city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, to help expand the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator in the wake of Hurricane Irma. According to grantee estimates, the project is expected to create 143 jobs, retain 46 jobs and spur $27.5 million in private investment.

“The Trump Administration is continuing to work diligently to help rebuild communities devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The expansion of the Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator will boost entrepreneurship in the region and help local businesses grow and thrive.”

“From Lawrenceville to Savannah, Georgia has the one of the best climates for job creation in the nation,” said Congressman Woodall. “High tech entrepreneurs are flocking to the Seventh District because they have incredible opportunities to build and grow their businesses. I would like to thank President Trump and Secretary Ross for investing in Peachtree Corners. I have seen firsthand how Peachtree Corners Technology Incubator empowers local startups and helps them unlock their true potential. This grant will bolster an innovative hot spot and brings Georgia entrepreneurs one step closer to a better and brighter future.” 

This investment funds the purchase the 28,000 square-foot, two story building that Prototype Prime is currently leasing. Eliminating the rental cost will allow Prototype Prime to better support its hardware and software startups. The Incubator will focus on start-up companies engaged in software development, gaming programs, and web applications.

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Atlanta Regional Commission. EDA funds the Atlanta Regional Commission to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development road map to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

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