Software firm AirWatch adding 800 jobs in Atlanta

Mobile software company AirWatch will add 800 jobs at its Sandy Springs headquarters in the next two years.

The business plans to spend another $4 million upgrading its equipment.

AirWatch chairman Alan Dabbiere said the company has already begun hiring as it more than doubles its staffing in metro Atlanta, where it already has about 650 workers. Jobs to be added include software developers and data analysts.

“This is a huge opportunity and we’re so proud to do it in Georgia,” he said. “And we probably couldn’t do it anywhere else but Georgia.”

About $7 million in tax credits linked to job creation helped seal the deal, but Dabbiere and others said the incentives were just part of the reason to add the jobs in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal said the state’s trained workforce and pro-business policies played an important role.

“All of these are now coming together, and this is exhibit A,” he said, speaking at an announcement of the expansion.

AirWatch, launched in 2003, has nearly 1,000 employees worldwide. The firm’s developers create and maintain mobile apps for businesses, working from a massive trading floor that once housed defunct energy company Mirant. The software they develop and maintain can track how employees use their own devices to access company data.

The growth of apps is fueling a niche technology market in Atlanta that city and state officials are trying to exploit. A 2012 study shows Georgia has about 24,000 jobs tied to the mobile app industry, many of them at local startups that offer high-paying jobs.

“This expansion clearly defines the state’s and city’s leadership in innovative mobile technology and its applications,” said Chris Cummiskey, who heads the state economic development department.

It’s the latest in a string of key job announcements that could improve metro Atlanta’s jobless rate, which rose to 8.4 percent in December. General Motors announced this month it is opening a research center in Roswell that will employ about 1,000 people, and economic development officials say other major projects are in the pipeline.

Dabbiere founded Manhattan Associates, a logistics software firm, in California in 1990 and moved its 30 employees to Atlanta five years later. A few years after the company went public, he started AirWatch and kept its headquarters in the metro area.

“I kiddingly say that in northern California, every employee has three job opportunities by lunch,” he said. “Here we can grow for the long-term. And we are only at the very beginning.”

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