Articles by Maria Saporta

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Column: Mercedes-Benz USA going strong as it marks two years in Atlanta

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 14, 2017

Mercedes-Benz USA moved its headquarters to metro Atlanta exactly two years ago (in July, 2015), and the luxury car company has been going non-stop ever since.

“It feels like we’ve been here forever,” said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA and the regional head of North America, which includes Canada and Mexico.

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South Downtown project moves forward

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 14, 2017

German real estate company Newport US RE is moving forward with ambitions to redevelop portions of eight blocks and up to 750,000 square feet of South Downtown’s historic buildings.

Newport has filed plans with the Eastside Tax Allocation District, where it will seek up to $12 million in public funding for the project — one of the largest ever proposed for downtown.

RH Atlanta Showroom property in Buckhead changes hands

A prime Buckhead site has changed ownership.

The property that houses the flagship Atlanta showroom of Restoration Hardware at 3030 Peachtree Road has been sold to 3030 Grey Partners LLC.

The former owners were real estate investor Peter Blum and the late Atlanta business icon J. Mack Robinson, who had jointly owned the property since 1995.

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Column: Citizens Trust evolving with the banking industry

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 7, 2017

Citizens Trust Bank closed two of its branches on June 30 including the one at its historic Piedmont Avenue building and its branch in Lithonia.

But Cynthia Day, Citizens Trust’s CEO, said the moves represent a transition in the banking industry rather than any financial issues with the bank — which is the largest African-American owned bank in the Southeast as well as the fifth largest in the country.

MARTA, City of Atlanta and Relay Bikes seek to close ‘last mile’ gap

MARTA and the City of Atlanta are teaming up to provide the elusive “last mile” for people seeking alternative ways to get around.

MARTA and the city’s Relay bike sharing program launched their partnership on July 14 with an actual bike relay from the Colony Square bike station to MARTA’s Arts Center Station. MARTA and city employees “competed” in an effort to “win” the relay.

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Delta savors success at its annual meeting

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on July 7, 2017

When Delta Air Lines held its annual meeting in New York City at 7:30 a.m. on June 29, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was not there.

Franklin had just spent the better part of two days attending events and meetings for Delta directors including a dinner June 27 to bid her farewell from the board. She, along with fellow director Kenneth Woodrow, had reached the mandatory retirement age of 72.

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Column: Through wave of change, Coke says it’s still committed to Atlanta

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 30, 2017

As The Coca-Cola Co. undergoes a transformation of its business and scales down by 1,200 positions — mainly at its corporate headquarters, there has been concern about the company’s commitment to Atlanta.

Never fear.

That’s according to the key individuals who head the company’s civic efforts: Bea Perez, chief public affairs, communications and sustainability officer who also chairs the Coca-Cola Foundation; and Helen Smith Price, vice president of global community affairs and president of the Coca-Cola Foundation.

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New Atlanta Fed president brings fresh background, perspective

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 30, 2017

The new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta — Raphael Bostic — could title his new post after Monty Python’s 1971 comedy film — And Now for Something Completely Different.

Bostic is the first African-American to ever be named as president of one of the 12 regional Fed banks. In addition to that, he also is an openly gay man who is well aware of the symbolism and reality of both positions.

City of Atlanta selects Biohabitats to develop its ‘Urban Ecology Framework’

By Maria Saporta The City of Atlanta has selected Charleston, S.C.-based Biohabitats to develop the Urban Ecology Framework for the city. Through the city’s framework, Biohabitats will determine what aspects of nature in Atlanta should be preserved, restored and accentuated by the public realm. Biohabitats’ founder and president, Keith Bowers, will be leading the work […]

Mayor Reed’s administration responds to Maria Saporta’s column to dream big on parks

Note to readers: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and his administration Friday morning released a response to Maria Saporta’s Metro column that posted earlier this week. We at SaportaReport welcome the conversation about parks and green space, and the column was intended as a challenge for the next mayor to dream big. It was not intended to be a critique of the Reed administration and what has been the significant  progress that has occurred in the past seven years – as the Mayor’s administration  outlines in its release below.

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Column: Friendship Force launches 40th anniversary campaign

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 23, 2017

Atlanta-based Friendship Force International is celebrating its 40th anniversary by launching a $1 million fundraising campaign.

Friendship Force is a pioneer in promoting global understanding through the citizen homestay experience. Its 40th anniversary campaign will seek to develop new initiatives to involve more people to travel with a purpose to create a more peaceful world.

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Historic transformation underway at Atlanta History Center 

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 23, 2017

History is being remade at the Atlanta History Center.

The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting and the locomotive Texas now are anchored in the new Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker building — still under construction — on the Atlanta History Center’s Buckhead campus.

The move caps the extraordinary five-year tenure Sheffield Hale has held as president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center.

Delta soaring to record heights – a decade after emerging from bankruptcy

NEW YORK – The annual meeting of Delta Air Lines Friday morning became a high-flying affair as CEO Ed Bastian declared two all-time records.

The company’s market cap is approaching $40 billion, and Bastian said: “Last night, we closed at an all-time high.”

And then on Friday, Delta was expecting its busiest day ever.

“We will be flying 651,000 passengers,” Bastian said in a brief interview after the annual meeting. “It’s the highest in our history.”

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Column: Two nonprofits win awards from Community Foundation

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 16, 2017

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has named Literacy Action and Trees Atlanta as the recipients of its 33rd annual “Managing for Excellence” awards.

The recognition is one of the most sought-after awards among Atlanta’s nonprofit organizations. The Community Foundation rewards nonprofits that are exceptionally well-run with outstanding management and governance practices combined with innovative thinking.

Mayor Kasim Reed: $1 billion mixed use development around Philips Arena planned by Richard Ressler, brother of Hawks owner Tony Ressler

The Los Angeles-based CIM Group will develop at $1 billion mixed-use project around a renovated Philips Arena, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in an exclusive interview Friday.

One of the key principals of the CIM Group is Richard Ressler, the brother of Tony Ressler, the majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks.

Reed confirmed the “transformative project” during an interview after the quarterly meeting of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, held at the Ponce City Market offices of Cox Enterprises on Friday morning. It also was Tony Ressler’s first ACP meeting.

Settlement reached to close Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter – ending more than a decade of discord

After nearly a decade of legal battles between various parties, a settlement has been reached that will lead to the closing of the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter, according to several sources close to the transaction.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall apparently signed a consent decree on Wednesday, but different parties did not want to discuss the settlement on the record until they had seen the signed agreement

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Rotary convention boosts city’s global health image

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 16, 2017

Atlanta’s role as a leading hub for global health held center-stage during the 2017 Rotary International convention – an event where nearly 36,000 Rotarians, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and numerous other partners committed another $1.2 billion towards the efforts of eradicating polio over the next three years.

Atlanta was the perfect venue for that announcement. It was here where Rotary first launched its foundation 100 years ago – a centennial celebrated at the culmination of the convention with birthday parties on June 14.