EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Kemp tours new Norfolk Southern headquarters, talks COVID-19 vaccine

It's been nearly two years since Norfolk Southern announced they planned to relocate their corporate headquarters to Atlanta and Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp donned a hardhat for a tour of the site.

"I remember being here for the groundbreaking," said Gov. Kemp. "It always takes a long time to get buildings like this out of the ground, but now that they have, it is moving fast. I mean, there's sheetrock, wiring, plumbing."

The $575 million building is located at the corner of West Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue in Midtown, just across the downtown connector from Georgia Tech.

CEO James Squires said that was one of the selling points for the company.

"It was so attractive to us as a place to have our headquarters because of the great talent pool, the excellent travel connections and the diversity of the city and the workforce here, and a great quality of life," Squires explained.

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Norfolk Southern already had a large presence in Georgia with more than 4,700 employees in the state as of 2017, but with the relocation, they plan to add another 850 jobs.

"Fortunately, it's one of the amazing stories of the pandemic," said Gov. Kemp.  We announced two new economic development deals this week.  So, it's been amazing how resilient our economy has been. I think it's because of our take on protecting lives, but also livelihoods to keep a project like this going, not shutting construction down."

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Gov. Kemp also met with hospital and nursing home executives this week to talk about the state's plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines once they receive federal emergency use authorization.

"We're ready to distribute as soon as we get the approvals and the shipments starting to come. We've been planning for that for a long time with our Insurance Commissioner John King, Dr. [Kathleen] Toomey and her team," Kemp explained. "We've authorized pharmacists and other folks to do drive-by inoculations to make sure that when we get the vaccine we're ready to get it out to the people."

Kemp said the priority once those vaccines arrive will be healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

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