Jagdish Sheth is a marketing expert who has extensively studied Indian and Chinese commercial relations.
Atlanta‘s efforts to attract foreign investment, especially from India, depend more on trumpeting existing assets than adding new ones, an Emory University marketing expert said June 29.
The city should “put a shingle up” in industries where it has already become a viable hub, including aerospace, automobiles and information technology, said Jagdish Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt professor of marketing at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.
“The auto industry is shifting permanently from the Midwest to the Southeast and the only viable headquarters city like Detroit is Atlanta,” Dr. Sheth said at the Regional Bengali Conference, a gathering of mostly Indian professionals in Norcross.
The India-born professor’s comments came less than a week after the Metro Atlanta Chamber unveiled a new strategic plan aimed at bringing a city “in crisis” back to the national forefront.
According to the plan, called Forward Atlanta, the city has seen no net job gains since 2000 and ranks last among major metro areas in jobs recovered since the 2009 recession.
A healthy dose of foreign investment could help put people back to work. Indiantechnology firms alone support
more than 108,000 jobs in the U.S., according to Indian Consul General Ajit Kumar, who made the keynote speech to open the conference.
Indian IT giant Wipro Ltd. is a prime example in Atlanta, said Dr. Sheth, who sits on the company’s board. Wipro employs more than 1,000 people at a development center in Buckhead, most of them local hires. Infosys Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services
both have local offices employing hundreds of people.
Aditya Birla Group, an Indian conglomerate with more than $35 billion in annual sales, has spent more than $1 billion purchasing two Atlanta-based companies - Novelis Inc. and Columbian Chemicals Inc. - in the last six years, Dr. Sheth added.
Somewhat “out of nowhere” Atlanta has become a strategic headquarters city for the Western Hemisphere, a fact Dr. Sheth said he is sharing with about 10 Indian conglomerates he advises.
Atlanta should proactively stake its claim to this fact, preempting competitors for a coming wave of Indian investment, he said.
Clustering here would help Indian firms make a bigger splash while giving Atlanta an even stronger story to tell, he added.
For more information on the Bengali conference, visit www.rbc2012.org.