Porsche Announces Move to New Headquarters near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

Porsche Cars North America announced on May 12 that it will build a significantly expanded new headquarters in Atlanta, the city it has called home for thirteen years.

The new complex will be located in the ?Aerotropolis Atlanta? development site, near the recently expanded International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.  The development will feature modern office facilities for a workforce that will eventually number 400 employees, as well as a leading-edge Customer Experience Center with a handling road course to show-off the capabilities of Porsche?s vehicles. Groundbreaking is planned for this fall with the move-in date scheduled for the second half of 2013.
?Our new American headquarters will allow us to finally bring together all our major sales, after sales and financial services capacities, thus making us an even stronger organization.  It also sends a strong message to our dealers and our customers that we believe in the strength of the U.S. market and its future growth,? said Detlev von Platen, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.  ?At the same time, this decision demonstrates our commitment to the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta to remain a vital part of this vibrant region.?

Reece & Associates has represented Porsche Cars North America for a number of years.
Governor Deal signs 267 bills, vetoes eight others

Last week Governor Deal signed many of the 267 bills that reached his desk from the 2011 legislative session into law, including a bill supporting restrictive covenant agreements, the controversial immigration bill, and legislation extending tax incentives for solar energy installations.

After the adjournment of Georgia?s legislative session, the Governor has a limited amount of time to either sign or veto legislation. If legislation is not signed or vetoed it becomes law.
Courts Directed to Look More Favorably on Restrictive Competition Agreements

It required two bills and a constitutional amendment, but Georgia businesses are finally empowered to enact new restrictive covenant agreements in an effort to protect themselves from former employee competition.  The two-year saga to enact this legislation came to a close on May 11 when Governor Deal signed the Restrictive Covenant Act (HB 30) into law.

Historically Georgia?s courts have approached noncompetitive agreements with ?strict scrutiny.?  That is to say, the courts have very closely examined all contracts forbidding employees to compete with former employers after leaving a position, generally ruling in favor of the employee and voiding the contract.  

The new Act moves dramatically in the opposite direction, stating that the courts should provide ?reasonable protection to all legitimate business interests established by the person seeking enforcement.?  The Act specifically eliminates time restrictions pertaining to protecting confidentiality and trade secrets, removes the requirement that non-solicitation agreements specifically spell out the applicable geographic areas, and assumes that these provisions apply to all customers with whom the departing employee had substantial dealings.

Even more importantly, the courts are now empowered to modify parts of an overly broad covenant in order to make it enforceable in favor of the business interest, instead of simply voiding the agreement.  Only time and court challenges will reveal how significant an impact the new Act will have for businesses.

The bizarre saga to alter the law started in 2009 with House Bill 173, designed to amend the Georgia Code.  The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly and was signed by the Governor.  However, the statute as written would violate Georgia?s constitution and therefore could not go into effect until voters ratified a constitutional amendment, which they did on November 2.  But, due to a drafting error, the amendment did not state an effective date and therefore, by default, would not go into effect until January 1, 2011.  Since the two dates didn?t match, scholars and business leaders worried that the statute was invalid.  This legislative session, the General Assembly passed a new version of the statute?House Bill 30?with a correct date, which Governor Deal signed on May 11, 2011 bringing the legislative side of this story to an end.
Immigration Bill Signed into Law by Governor Deal

Despite the threat of boycotts and promised legal challenges, Governor Deal signed Georgia?s stringent immigration reform bill into law last Friday.  Beginning July 1, 2011, the measure authorizes police to investigate the status of criminal suspects believed to be in the country illegally.  It also criminalizes harboring and transporting illegal immigrants and requires most private employers to use E-Verify, a federal database, to determine the status of newly hired workers.

Governor Deal and other supporters tout the measure as a way to relieve the burden on Georgia?s public schools, jails, hospitals, and taxpayers. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there are approximately 425,000 illegal immigrants in Georgia, the seventh highest total among all states.

Opponents of the measure, including the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, claim that the measure could hurt Atlanta?s reputation as a welcoming city and lead to decreased convention and tourism revenue.  The U.S. Human Rights Network recently announced that it would not hold its 2011 national conference in Atlanta as was previously scheduled.
A Bright Future for Solar Energy in Georgia

JM Family Enterprises and its subsidiary DataScan Technologies are poised to take advantage of the new legislation after recently dedicating their state-of-the-art rooftop solar array in Alpharetta, Georgia.  At the dedication ceremony for the solar array, which was attended by 15 state legislators, JM Family executives and U.S. Congressman Tom Price cut a yellow electric power cord symbolizing the amount of energy savings the company will enjoy through utilizing the new solar array.  

The 202 kilowatt array is the second largest rooftop array in the state and the largest in the greater Atlanta area.  Its 1,170 solar panels are integrated into the roof and will produce 285,500 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, helping offset the data center?s daily energy usage by 30-50%.
The solar array will produce enough completely clean electricity to offset 205 metric tons of carbon emission or the equivalent annual electricity usage of 25 residential homes.  Thanks to state and federal tax credits, JM Family expects to recoup their $2 million investment in just seven years, making the investment business savvy as well as environmentally friendly.

Solar energy is experiencing tremendous growth nationally and the newly signed law will promote economic development in Georgia.  As other companies follow JM Family?s lead, cities and towns across the state will see new jobs for solar developers, contractors, electricians, roofers, and HVAC technicians as well as local economic stimulus through increased payroll tax revenue.

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