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Quality of Life: The New Best Incentive

Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, at the New York International Auto Show, in 2013.

Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, at the New York International Auto Show, in 2013.

AP Photo/Richard Drew

When Mercedes-Benz USA announced in January it would move its U.S. headquarters south from New Jersey to Atlanta, the story quickly moved to the “why” element.

Off the bat, the company said the plan, in part, was to be closer to its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, as reported in the New York Times, says it was about money. “Mercedes USA made one thing very clear about its decision to leave — the cost of doing business and the tax environment is just too high here to be competitive with a state like Georgia,” a Christie spokesman told the Times. 

But not so fast, according to an interview reported in The Record newspaper in Bergen County, New Jersey, where Mercedes has its current home. The newspaper reported details of a talk between Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Stephen Cannon and Christie on Dec. 23.

Quoting Cannon, The Record had this exchange: “(Christie) brought his Economic Development head with him. He said, ‘What’s it going to take?’ And I said, ‘Look, this isn’t about us trying to chase the biggest pile of incentives, because that was not the driver.’ In fact, incentives, when you look at the whole picture, it’s just a small piece. We’re making a 50-year decision, and a pile of incentives in Year One, Two or Three over a 50-year decision doesn’t make a gigantic impact.”

While Mercedes hadn’t named the new location by press time, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta, both popular suburbs for the “Gen-Y” workforce on the Ga. 400 corridor, have been mentioned.

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