Articles by Maria Saporta

A first: Georgia Trust shines spotlight on historic treasures in Southwest Atlanta

The most fragile time for a community surfaces when investors and developers begin swarming around looking for inexpensive property they can flip and make some money.

Southwest Atlanta is case-in-point.

For decades, the Westside witnessed populations losses and declines in property values. But in recent years, the neighborhoods have been enjoying attention from philanthropists, civic groups, developers and investors.


Doug Shipman named CEO of Woodruff Arts Center

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 2, 2017

Doug Shipman will be the new president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, succeeding Virginia Hepner, who has held the post for the past five years.

Shipman, 44, is the CEO of BrightHouse — a global creative consultancy that is part of BCG (Boston Consulting Group). But Shipman is best known for the nine years he spent exploring the feasibility, developing and opening Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. He left the center after its first full year in business.

APD Chief Erika Shields says policing needs a new paradigm

During her talk to the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields did not shy away from the tough issues she faces in leading the police department.

Shields has been in her position for about six months, but she was part of the leadership team of former Police Chief George Turner, who she credited for making solid improvements to the department.

Opening of Publix in northwest Atlanta welcomed by residents and politicians

Politics was on the shopping list at the opening of the new Publix on Moores Mill and Bolton roads Wednesday morning.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony provided a stage for people running for office and for those seeking to settle political scores and slights.

But the real stars of the day were the dozens, if not hundreds, of community residents who showed up at the store before 7 a.m. to celebrate the long-awaited amenity in their neighborhood.


Column: Cousins family helps Oglethorpe University be an ‘important institution’ to Atlanta

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 26, 2017

Oglethorpe University has friends and family to thank for launching a new building effort on the heels of completing the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history.

Among its closest friends are Tom and Ann Cousins, who have given Oglethorpe a $2.5 million lead gift for the university’s new Center for Science and Innovation, the largest single gift the institution has ever received from an individual family.

The new $20 million center will be built on the university’s historic quadrangle, and it will include new science labs as well as an innovation component that will distinguish Oglethorpe among its peers — connecting liberal arts to experiential learning.


Column: Gov. Nathan Deal to receive 2017 Four Pillar award

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 19, 2017

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will be honored by the Council for Quality Growth with its 28th annual Four Pillar Award on Oct. 5 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

It is the first time the Council has presented the Four Pillar Award to a sitting governor.

The Council said Deal was being honored for his contributions to economic prosperity, education and transportation in Georgia. The Council’s Four Pillars of leadership – quality, responsibility, vision and integrity – exemplify the organization’s mission of promoting balanced and responsible growth.


Atlanta leaders see what drives Motor City during 2017 LINK trip

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 19, 2017

Note to readers: The 2017 LINK trip was the 21st annual trip, which began in 1997. Hundreds of regional leaders have been invited to participate on the LINK trips, which have visited Denver (twice), Dallas (twice), Seattle (twice), Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto, Vancouver, San Diego, Portland, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.

DETROIT — Metro Atlanta’s problems seem miniscule when compared to the challenges Michigan’s largest city has faced in recent years.


With roots in the past, new CEO of Cox Enterprises faces future

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 12, 2017

The fourth generation of the Cox family soon will be leading Cox Enterprises Inc., the largest privately-owned company in Georgia.

Alex Taylor, 42, the great-grandson of the company’s founder, will become the company’s CEO on Jan. 1, succeeding John Dyer, who has been with the company for 40 years.

Taylor and Dyer sat down with Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 8 at the headquarters of Cox Enterprises to talk about the transition in leadership and the future of the business.

A home at last: Atlanta ‘Comfort Women’ statue is welcome in Brookhaven

The Atlanta Comfort Women have found a home – Brookhaven.

A statue of a young girl sitting in a chair originally was supposed to have been anchored at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. The memorial was an artistic depiction to shine the light on human sex trafficking.

But earlier this year, the Center reversed its decision to host the statue after getting pressure from business and international leaders.

Southern Co.’s Tom Fanning: Decision on Vogtle expansion likely to be made in August

CALLAWAY GARDENS – More than a dozen shareholders participated in a question-and-answer session with Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning during the annual meeting that lasted two hours.

And most of the questions centered around the company’s efforts to adopt more renewable energy, vocally support the Paris Climate Accord and to become a more vocal industry leader addressing global warming and climate change.

Agnes Scott President Elizabeth Kiss to step down June 2018

Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss sent an email to the institution’s alumnae announcing her intention to resign on June 30, 2018 – completing a dozen years at the helm of the liberal arts women’s college.

“Agnes Scott is a magical place, and I feel so blessed to have had the privilege of serving as your president for the past 11 years,” Kiss wrote in her email.

Dan Cathy and Arthur Blank, in a joint appearance, reaffirm commitment to Westside

The Gathering Spot at Northyards was jam-packed Friday morning to hear a conversation between Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy as part of the regular Transform Westside Summit meetings.

Both successful businessmen have made a personal and professional commitment to improve the lives of people living in the neighborhoods west of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in some of the most historically-significant communities in Atlanta.


Column: Atlanta nonprofit group Literacy Action begins a new chapter

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 5, 2017

A change of leadership is underway at Literacy Action, a 50-year old Atlanta nonprofit that focuses on the issues related to adult literacy.

Austin Dickson, executive director of Literacy Action since October, 2012, is resigning effective May 12 to move back to Texas so he can be closer to his family.

Dickson, a Texas native, is moving to the San Antonio area where he will serve as the executive director of the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, the principal grant-maker in four Central Texas counties.


Atlanta hotel launched modern Hyatt brand

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 5, 2017

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta, with its iconic blue-domed revolving restaurant, has long defined the downtown skyline.

But the city’s second-largest hotel also turned the tide for what today is a giant hotel brand.

The 1,260-room hotel on Peachtree Street this week celebrated its 50th anniversary. Top hotel executives were in town to mark the occasion with two days of events, including Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corp.


Mattress-maker Serta Simmons may tuck its headquarters into Assembly

By Dougals Sams and Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on May 5, 2017

Mattress maker Serta Simmons Bedding LLC will move into a new consolidated Atlanta headquarters in 2019.

The company, which has been exploring options for a new campus for the past year, did not name the site in a statement released May 2 to Atlanta Business Chronicle. But, the Serta Simmons headquarters is widely expected to help launch the first phase of Assembly, the proposed $2 billion redevelopment of the former Doraville General Motors plant.


Column: Genuine Parts looks back on a year of big changes

As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on April 28, 2017

What a year of change for Genuine Parts Co.

In the past year, the company has moved its corporate headquarters from 2999 Circle 75 Parkway – right next to the new Atlanta Braves Stadium at SunTrust Park — to a little more than one mile east to 2999 Wildwood Parkway where it built a new headquarters. It had been at its former location since 1979.