In early 2014, Mark and Shelly Wilson went shopping for a site for their newest business venture – a giant customer service call center – and ended up at the mall.

Opening Chime Solutions in the former J.C. Penney at Southlake Mall in Clayton County made sense, they decided. The mall sits off a busy stretch of I-75 in Morrow and along a MARTA bus line. More important, it had ample parking and a food court with plenty of gastronomic options – amenities sorely lacking for a similar business the Wilsons previously owned.

The Fulton County couple had considered the now-defunct Union Station (formerly Shannon Mall) in Union City, but ultimately decided on the Clayton location.

“Southlake was active and vibrant,” said Mark Wilson, a former Dun & Bradstreet executive who teamed with his wife, a microbiologist who worked for several pharmaceutical and health care companies, 15 years ago to start a customer service and outsourcing business out of the basement of their home.

“The south side of town hasn’t been tapped into. We thought it was a tremendous opportunity to tap into the availability of rich talent there. It’s kind of a well-hidden secret.”

Their move was not only a creative use of empty mall-space, it was also the largest job-generating venture in two decades in Clayton County, prompting Gov. Nathan Deal to trumpet the deal on the steps of the Capitol.

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