Health tech company picks Ponce City Market, bringing 600-plus jobs

Ponce City Market, the redevelopment of the former City Hall East site in Atlanta, is getting a new tenant that will bring more than 600 high-tech jobs to the city.

Mayor Kasim Reed and Gov. Nathan Deal announced Athenahealth Inc., a provider of cloud-based services that help health care providers keep track of records, will invest $10.8 million in the project to house its workers.

The Watertown, Mass.-based company has more than 140 employees in Alpharetta and will relocate them to Ponce City Market. Over the next five years, it plans to add more than 500 workers.

It was the second job-creation announcement made Monday. Deal earlier said Inalfa Roof Systems, a Dutch company that supplies sunroofs and other roofing to automakers, will open a $17.1 million plant in Cherokee County next year that will employ 300 workers.

Reed said the Athenahealth “win is huge for the city, our residents and the Ponce de Leon corridor.”

The company’s move to the city is the latest in a string of announcements about major companies relocating to or expanding in metro Atlanta and North Georgia.

New life for Ponce de Leon site

Speculation surfaced in March that Athenahealth would be a major tenant at the new development on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Sears originally developed the property into a store and distribution center but closed the facility in the late 1980s. A few years later, the city acquired the property for $12 million, but used only a fraction of it for a police precinct.

The city sold the property in October 2010 to the development company Jamestown Properties for $27 million. The developer announced plans to transform the complex into high-end apartments, retail stores and restaurants, opening in 2014.

Deal said Athenahealth’s move to the city strengthens metro Atlanta’s presence in health information technology.

David Hartnett of the Metro Atlanta Chamber said the state has a ready health IT workforce. “This will draw the attention of the health IT industry and encourage more companies to come to Georgia,” said Hartnett, vice president of bioscience-health IT development at the chamber.

Georgia has used tax breaks and other incentives to lure companies and their jobs to the state. The state Department of Economic Development provided a $750,000 Regional Economic Business Assistance grant to Athenahealth administered through Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm.

“We believe Ponce City Market will help us attract the best talent metro Atlanta has to offer,” Athenahealth Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush said. The company also has operations in Rome, Ga.,, as well as in Alabama, California, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and in India.

Over the past year, the city also has managed to attract the headquarters of homebuilder PulteGroup and announced expansions of childrens clothier Carter’s and digital marketing company ExactTarget, which is being acquired by