We sat down with Dana Johnson, newly named Executive Director of Select Cobb, to talk baseball, the Battery, and everything in between.
How long have you been on the job?
Four months. But I've worked in the community for 18 years. I'm originally from Massachusetts. I came down and received my Master's at Georgia Tech in 2000 and never looked back.
Baseball season just wound up! How's it going so far?
The Braves are playing good baseball right now! People are flocking to SunTrust Park/ The Battery Atlanta to be a part of this new baseball experience. It's a great experience for residents and visitors.
How has the Battery development changed the face of Cobb County?
It's an incredible asset. The investment the Braves and the county have put into SunTrust Park and Battery are paying off in many ways, from increases in retail business, SPLOST and new tax revenue, and the five new office towers were built - the impact has been across the board putting the Cumberland submarket back on the map. Even on non-game days, people are very excited to have the Battery. It is attracting families and millennials alike as a new entertainment destination in Metro Atlanta. People are out having a great time.
The Battery Atlanta has created an attraction that draws people in 365 days a year. Residents and visitors come to shop, go to great restaurants, see a show, and even ride a bull if you feel like it. There's just a lot to do to have fun with family and friends.
Did you ever think something this huge would develop here?
Nothing is ever a surprise if you plan appropriately for growth. What we have done in the Cumberland submarket over the last 20 years has been preparing for the Braves, the Battery, and thyssenkrupp - even though we didn't know those were going to happen. When you look at the infrastructure and the networks that have been created, we've really been preparing for this for a long time.
Big growth can bring skepticism along with it. What's been done to keep things running smoothly?
There were a lot of smart people working together on this project to create a transportation network that would create the excess capacity we needed to make it work. Things like changing the start times of the games, so the interstates have time to move people through. We are using technology, transit, and intersection improvements to better manage traffic and pedestrian flows. And before, when people went to the games, they all showed up and left at the same time. With the Battery, some people come early and some stay later, which staggers the traffic and helps reduce congestion.
What makes Cobb County different?
Cobb is a transformational community. We started off as a bedroom community, and we've evolved into a great place where you can live, work, play, and pursue your dreams. The Cumberland submarket is an economic powerhouse for the region; we have incredible towns like Marietta and Smyrna that provide an amazing quality of life. We have a government in Cobb that is efficient and wants to make business happen in our community. The collaboration between the chamber, the county government, our cities, and the CIDs all working together in order to drive economic success is what makes Cobb different.
We have incredible corporate partners in Cobb County, the Atlanta Braves have become one of those stalwarts- like Home Depot, Novelis, and many others. Soon thyssenkrupp will become part of the family. We expect to keep adding to our success story.
How does Georgia Power help?
We love our friends at Georgia Power. Georgia Power helps us to be successful, whether it's for gathering research that a customer or prospect needs, providing leads, or helping us visualize how a building will fit on a site. Georgia Power is such an important partner in the entire statewide economic development process. We couldn't do it without you!
How do you feel about the community you love also being your work?
I have an awesome job. I love what I do; I love the community that promote and reside in. I've worked almost my entire professional career here. I couldn't think of anywhere else I would rather be.