Atlanta Transit: History in the Making

Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:15 pm EDT


Anne Cooney, President, Process Industries and Drives, Siemens

Recently, nearly 50 Siemens employees from our Alpharetta, Ga., manufacturing facility traveled downtown to experience firsthand the new Atlanta Streetcar on a guided ride-along as part of an effort to recognize these Atlanta-based employees who helped build components of the streetcar. 

While these employees routinely manufacture parts of rail projects across America and in Canada, there’s a particular pride in having it operate in your backyard. Together, these dedicated employees were responsible for constructing a critical part of the Atlanta Streetcar’s propulsion systems, which propels the vehicle forward. The ride-along gave employees the chance to see their hard work come to life: A 2.7-mile light rail loop connecting formerly disparate sections of the city, and, according to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, what is just the first phase of a much greater, proposed infrastructure project ultimately designed to connect metro Atlanta with the greater region.

“This was meant to celebrate and recognize the Siemens team who worked on this project,” said Alpharetta plant manager Shujath Ali. “Having our own equipment that we built here in our backyard creates a real sense of pride in Atlanta.”

And this week, the ABC SuperSign - in the heart of Times Square in New York City - highlights the Streetcar and how it’s moving Atlanta forward with convenience and interconnectivity.

The Atlanta Streetcar, which has provided transportation to more than 180,000 passengers between its launch and now, is just one project supporting America’s transit systems that employees proudly stand behind.

In the coming year, the Alpharetta team - working with Siemens employees in Sacramento, Calif., and Norwood, Ohio, - will manufacture equipment for passenger rail projects in San Francisco, Charlotte, Portland and for the new All Aboard Florida high-speed rail project. These endeavors are proving their worth and investment, not only by supporting manufacturing jobs in America, but also by revitalizing the local economies.

Keith Hillsman, Atlanta Streetcar Community Liaison, said businesses in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, one of 12 stops on the streetcar’s route, have reported a 20-30 percent boost in business.

Inside the market, Gwen Denninghoff, co-owner of Le Metro Creperie, said the streetcar’s potential to bring additional business was one of the reasons she leased the space. Since the streetcar began operation, her business has doubled. “It builds community,” said Denninghoff.

Adam Panayiotou, co-owner of Panbury’s Double Crust Pies, said he also chose the market in part for the additional customers the streetcar could bring.

Back on the Streetcar, Scott Santos, a Siemens technician specialist who built the inverters, considers the Streetcar ride-along experience a special moment in his career. He has worked for Siemens for nearly 20 years and this is only the second project he’s seen in action. “I just had to take this opportunity to see it,” he said.

Scott shows a tremendous sense of pride in knowing individual employees in manufacturing play a vital part in building and expanding America’s infrastructure.

Small business owners like Gwen and Adam prove their hope and faith in the belief that mass transit improves our cities in more ways than we know.

Atlanta city leaders are committed to a tremendous vision of the future of Atlanta.

And, on behalf of all Siemens employees in Atlanta, I feel honored to be part of history in the making.

Anne Cooney is President of the Process Industries and Drives division in the US. She has 14 years of experience with Siemens, previously serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from Gannon University, and a Master of Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Anne brings more than 35 years of industry and manufacturing knowledge and experience to her role.