ATLANTA — Bob Kosek (M.P.A. ’14), an Ohio native who views Atlanta as home, strives to improve Georgia’s economic conditions as the division director of global commerce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).
Kosek joined GDEcD in early 2021 and has maneuvered through various roles, all with the same goals in mind for Georgia’s economy: attracting new business investments, encouraging the expansion of existing industries, locating new markets for Georgia products, and planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.
He and his team of 30 maintain a large, robust number of projects around the state, ranging from the Hyundai electric vehicle plant recently announced for Savannah to agriculture-to-technology startups at Atlanta Tech Village in Buckhead and the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs in west Atlanta. In the last year, they’ve helped the GDEcD bring more than 51,132 jobs, a state record, and $21.2 billion in investment to all parts of Georgia, including the two largest projects in state history: Rivian and Hyundai Motor Group.
“We’ve brought investments to all parts of Georgia,” Kosek said.
Kosek’s role also grants him the opportunity to mentor younger professionals coming into the workforce.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” he said. “I really enjoy watching them excel in their careers.”
He met Ambria Hardy (B.S. ’22), one of the young professionals he mentors, through his involvement with the AYSPS Alumni Council. He joined the council to give back to his community.
“It’s always great to speak to countless students who are interested in pursuing a career in public service, and Ambria is one of those people,” Kosek said.
Kosek relocated to Atlanta to pursue his M.P.A. with a desire to help others and make an impact in any community he served. During his second year at Georgia State, he took a course in the principles and practices of economic development and found the subject interesting. He grew so fond of the field that he would cold email economic development agencies in Atlanta to learn more about them.
This strategy led to an internship at the Metro Atlanta Chamber, which opened the door to a career in project management at the chamber. There, his team was tasked with growing the business ecosystem in metro Atlanta. He worked alongside a variety of businesses, from Fortune 500 companies to small, local businesses.
Kosek enjoyed the work, helping local business owners make connections to reach their goals. He believed in his impact as he watched people make their entrepreneurial dreams come to fruition.
“I attribute my career to that one class and email that led to my internship with the Metro Atlanta Chamber,” Kosek said. “It was a really great place to start my career.”
In March 2019 he transitioned to Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s economic development authority, where he worked as the senior project manager of business attraction. A year later, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his team immediately switched from their normal tasks to triage businesses in Atlanta until the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 was passed. During the height of the pandemic, Kosek was promoted to assistant director of economic development.
Helping businesses in Atlanta became an all-hands-on-deck operation.
“I will never forget helping a barbershop that had been open inside of Greenbriar Mall for about 20 years,” Kosek said. “We helped them apply for the federal CARES Act grant program, inputting their application information into the web portal so they would qualify for grants that paid for the personal protective equipment and materials they needed to make their workspace safe and stay open.”
Kosek said his university experiences led to his career in economic development and emphasized his love for public service.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Georgia State and the Andrew Young School,” he said. “Being a part of the excitement at the university, being introduced to a career that helps me bring jobs and investment to Georgia and helping people grow in careers in public service is what I am really passionate about.”
By Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate