NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Officials have announced that Norfolk Southern is heading to Georgia — and will relocate its headquarters to Atlanta.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal made it official in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, where he was joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and representatives from Norfolk Southern.

NOTE: Live coverage of a news conference announcing Norfolk Southern’s move to Atlanta. App users can tune in here.

In a news release, Norfolk Southern said it is in advanced discussions to purchase a site in the heart of Midtown Atlanta that will serve as its next headquarters.

The company said the process of moving to Atlanta will span the next several years.

“Alignment, collaboration, and accountability are the hallmarks of Norfolk Southern’s plan to transform this company and its culture. Our new headquarters in Atlanta advances these key elements of success,” Jim Squires, chairman, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern, said in a statement.

The Atlanta City Council approved a $1.9 billion dollar deal last month that helped pave the way for Norfolk Southern’s decision to relocate.

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander told 10 On Your Side the incentives in Atlanta probably did the trick. However, Alexander also said Norfolk Southern will have corporate obligations here until 2026.

“Norfolk Southern is grateful to the city of Norfolk and the commonwealth of Virginia for their support of our company over the last three plus decades,” Squires added in his statement.

It appears the first 100 employees will make the move to Atlanta next summer. That will make it  easier for families with children in school. The next 300-400 will move by the summer of 2021. 

10 On Your Side asked Cassandra Hargrave whether she’s been told when her family will be transferred.

“We have a perspective date,” she said. She wouldn’t go into detail, but her husband works at Norfolk Southern and they have a three-month-old and now they have to move. This is the scene all over the company. 

Hargrave is like many affected by the Norfolk Southern move to Atlanta. “What this means for our family, we have decisions to make whether we stay or go. We have decisions to make, they are giving us options?”

She wouldn’t go into details, but there is stress for all these hundreds of families.  

The announcement of the move was made in Atlanta, but earlier in the day in Norfolk, Norfolk Southern’s Jim Squires told gathered employees what they already knew they’re moving to Atlanta.

“For you the move we are announcing is all about alignment with our people, with our customer, and with a long range plan to make Norfolk Southern an important contributor to the national economy, a trusted neighbor in the communities we serve, and a value to our shareholders,” Squires said. 

Make no mistake, Norfolk Southern’s final decision to move the headquarters came after Atlanta agreed to give hundreds of millions of dollars in a publicly funded redevelopment project in which Norfolk Southern sold land it owned and used $575 million in proceeds to build its new headquarters. 

In the end Squires gave this hint on what helped Atlanta take Norfolk Southern away from the Mermaid City, “And what I hope all of you take away, is that the effort leading to this relocation is a great example of a state and a region and city working  together to further the economic success of a region.” 

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander says Norfolk Southern has commitments to the city through 2026, and those broken promises could bring the city $4 million. 

The headline of today is clear: Norfolk Southern is gone. The next part of that headline is Hampton Roads must work as a region to fill the void.