Latest Reports

Blank Foundation now taking grant requests for $15 million Westside fund

By Maria Saporta

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is ready to accept grant applications to its $15 million Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund.

The Blank Foundation committed $15 million to help transform the neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill last year when it was seeking approvals to get the new Atlanta Falcons stadium built south of the existing Georgia Dome. The city’s Invest Atlanta arm also committed $15 million from its Westside Tax Allocation District to those communities.

Frank Fernandez, vice president of community development for the Blank Foundation, announced Tuesday that it is now accepting grant applications from nonprofits interested in helping transform those communities.
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Atlanta Rotary Clubs tackle human trafficking through Covenant House

By Maria Saporta

Two years ago, U.S. District Attorney Sally Yates spoke to the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

“She told us about the underbelly of our city that few of us knew and no one wanted to hear,” wrote Rotarian Bob Hope in the Rotary newsletter about how Atlanta had become a major center for human trafficking. “Sally Yates’ message was an epiphany.”

So began Rotary’s involvement in the human trafficking issue and its support of the Covenant House.
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Atlanta Streets Alive helps city, state become more ped and cycle friendly

By Maria Saporta

The Alliance for Biking and Walking ranks how the nation’s major 52 cities and the 50 states compare when it comes to having bicycle-friendly streets and pedestrian-friendly amenities.

Although Atlanta tends to rank better than the state of Georgia, both definitely have lots of room to improve their offerings by providing different modes of transportation other than just the automobile.

One way to change the mindset of a city is Atlanta Streets Alive – a celebratory festival held in different parts of the city every few months or so whereby the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition  and the City of Atlanta close several major streets in a community and turn them over to the people. Continue reading

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Arthur Blank says purchasing soccer team for Atlanta is ‘close to his heart’

By Maria Saporta

For Arthur Blank, buying a Major League Soccer franchise is as emotional a move as he’s ever made.

Blank, co-founder of the Home Depot and majority owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is first and foremost a smart businessman who has learned to connect with customers and fans while holding true to his core philanthropic values of making the community a better place.

And all of that will still be true with his new MLS franchise — the 22nd in the league.
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Leonardo McLarty to leave DeKalb Chamber after nearly 10 years

By Maria Saporta

Leonardo McLarty, president of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce for nearly 10 years, will leave the organization on May 23 to become director of economic and community development for the City of York, Pa beginning on June 2.

McLarty sent an email earlier today to DeKalb Chamber members and friends letting them know of his upcoming move.
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Aaron’s acquiring Progressive Finance Holdings for $700 million; urges shareholders to reject Vintage bid

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta-based Aaron’s Inc., a leading lease-to-own retailer, announced Tuesday morning that it has acquired Progressive Finance Holdings, LLC, a leading virtual lease-to-own company, from Summit Partners in an all-cash transaction valued at about $700 million.

Aaron’s will operate Progressive as a wholly-owned subsidiary. John Robinson, Progressive’s CEO, will join the Aaron’s executive leadership team as executive vice president and CEO of Progressive, reporting directly to Ronald W. Allen, Aaron’s CEO.

“This is a highly complementary and transformative acquisition for Aaron’s, and we are eager to capture the significant opportunities this combination will provide for our customers, franchisees, and shareholders,” Allen said in the release.
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After 30 years, Young Audiences to change its name to Arts for Learning

By Maria Saporta

At its 30th anniversary lunch celebration, Young Audiences did something a little different.

It announced to the world that it is changing its name — to Arts for Learning/ Woodruff Arts Center — on June 1.

Charisse Williams, president of Young Audiences, said the past year has been a great year to reflect on the organization’s past three decades, but also a time to look forward to its next 30 years. Young Audiences has been refining its strategy and working on how to best tell its story.
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Arthur Blank expected to announce pro Atlanta soccer team on Wednesday

By Maria Saporta

In one of the most anticipated sports announcements in recent Atlanta history, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is expected to announce on Wednesday that he has reached an agreement with Major League Soccer to become the newest owner of a franchise soccer team.

A media advisory was sent out Monday morning saying that there would be a major announcement on Wednesday with Blank, MLS Commissioner Don Garber along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Frank Poe, the executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority about the future of soccer in Atlanta.
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Turner Entertainment’s Steve Koonin joining Atlanta Hawks as new CEO

By Maria Saporta

Becoming CEO of the Atlanta Hawks is “every boy’s dream,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks.

The Atlanta Hawks announced on Sunday that Koonin will be the new CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena — a move aimed at strengthening the brand of the basketball team as well as focusing on more strategic plans for the organization.

“We just felt we needed a CEO who could step out of our day-to-day operations, both on the business side and the basketball side,” said Bruce Levenson, the majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks, in a telephone interview Sunday night.
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LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit shines light on Atlanta from Austin

By Maria Saporta

As the three-day Civil Rights Summit unfolded at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, one thing was abundantly clear.

Atlanta and its leaders were well represented during the event.

The summit began on Tuesday with Georgia’s own — former President Jimmy Carter, who spoke about his own evolution of growing up in a small rural town during the age of segregation. All his playmates were black, but they lived separate and unequal lives. Continue reading

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