An international motorsports manufacturer opened a marine innovation center Wednesday in Kennesaw, expanding the company’s footprint in metro Atlanta.
Yamaha, a Japanese company known for motorcycles and boats, will employ more than 100 workers at the new 75,280-square-foot facility along I-75. The facility will focus on marine technology, advanced boat power systems and quality assurance.
Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha’s U.S. marine business unit, said the innovation center’s employees will explore new ways to make boating more approachable.
“If you’re new to boating, it can be kind of scary,” he said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “But we can lay technology on top of that, and they’ll get a better experience, and we can build that confidence faster.”
The facility builds upon the company’s existing marine headquarters in Kennesaw. Yamaha has more than 2,300 employees across multiple Georgia facilities, most of which are in Cobb and Coweta counties.
No discretionary incentives were offered for the expansion, but Yamaha will likely qualify for Georgia Quick Start job creation tax credits
Yamaha said its continued growth in Kennesaw is a testament to Georgia’s universities, such as nearby Kennesaw State. Gov. Brian Kemp attended the opening event and said he was excited to see a large banner over the stage reading, “We are hiring engineers.”
“People ask, ‘Why do we try to go after projects like this? Why are we engaging companies like this?’” Kemp told attendees. “It’s because it gives our students and our people great opportunities to stay home and work for incredibly innovative and fun companies, to really enjoy what you’re doing but also make a great living.”
Speciale said integrating and improving internet technologies in boats is an area of focus for Yamaha. He mentioned the company’s mobile app, which allows users to monitor their boat’s location, battery charge and some of its cargo, including what’s stocked in the mini-fridge.
“(Speciale) was showing us his app, and he could see if his brother-in-law was stealing beer out of his refrigerator and things of that nature,” Kemp said.
In 2021, outdoor reaction was a $13-billion industry in Georgia and employed roughly 139,000 people, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
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