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Atlanta Set to Land Sought-After AT&T Startup Hub

The Georgia Tech area will soon be the new home of an AT&T innovation center that would add dozens of new research jobs and power a high-tech incubator designed to generate more startups across metro Atlanta, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal.

The company has selected Atlanta as one of four international locations for the Foundry, a hub where engineers and executives dream up new technologies and then quickly bring them to market. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported the deal was in the works in November.

Staffers at the centers work with software developers and engineers from outside firms on new programs, apps and devices. Teams work on new ways to store messages, new programs for smartphones and tablets and even new methods to control games.

AT&T declined to comment when reached Monday. The full-time jobs alone are the high-paying gigs that the city seeks to attract, but what has had some Atlanta entrepreneurs buzzing for months is the hub’s potential to spawn new startups in Atlanta.

Georgia officials have recruited a string of high-tech manufacturing sites, including Baxter International’s $1 billion pharmaceutical manufacturing plant near Covington that would staff about 1,500 jobs. But tech entrepreneurs have long pushed the state to focus more on the smaller research and design labs that cultivate startups.

The research facilities alone can bring a chunk of new jobs even before spawning startups. One example is General Motors, which in December selected a former UPS site in Roswell for a technology development center that could bring as many as 1,000 jobs to the area.

AT&T’s Foundry won’t create too many jobs in one fell swoop. But it could usher in more of these types of sought-after jobs in what executives call a competitive atmosphere where engineers can work to develop ideas with major firms one day and tiny startups the next.

The company has met with hundreds of developers at the three other innovation centers, which are in Palo Alto, Calif., Plano, Texas and Ra’anana, Israel. AT&T has said $80 million has been set aside for the centers.

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