By Maria Saporta
Mayor-elect Kasim Reed reached out to the Atlanta business community Monday morning at the quarterly meeting of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, a blue-ribbon advisory group set up six years ago by outgoing Mayor Shirley Franklin.
Reed, accompanied by City Council President Lisa Borders, had to leave directly after the meeting at SunTrust Plaza and wasn’t available to answer questions.
But ACP Chairman Jim Wells, CEO of SunTrust Banks, said the meeting between the business leaders and the new mayor went well.
“ACP and the mayor-elect intend to continue the partnership that we have,” Wells said. “The group wants to be helpful, and we will be very supportive.”
Wells said Reed told them that a top priority was putting together his administration team.
The group applauded Reed’s first key decision — naming Bain & Co. consultant, Peter Aman, as his chief operating officer. Aman was instrumental in helping Franklin establish ACP as a way to help the city reach best-in-class status in a host of areas.
“Peter Aman is very thoughtful about what the city needs,” Wells said, adding that both Reed and Aman pledged to work to bring the city together.
In addition to talking about the transition and building his team, Reed and the business group also talked about other priorities — building strong relationships with the state and federal government, shoring up the city’s finances, addressing the pending pension crisis and about improving public safety.
Reed introduced Borders, a former opponent in the mayor’s race who then endorsed the former state senator after the general election, as someone who was being helpful to him.
“He’s a team guy in my view,” Wells said. “He realizes this is a team sport.”
The Atlanta Committee for Progress, which had been Franklin’s baby, did not know how it would be embraced by a new mayor. All the candidates expressed interest in working with the business community, but Reed was the one candidate who pledged to keep the existing group intact.
”I’m eager to have the process continue,” said Wells, who previously had agreed to serve as chairman through Franklin’s administration. “I think the probabilities are that the new administration will do well. ACP is devoted to continuing to help the city, and its residents, grow and develop. I think he’ll do well.”
Because Reed served as Franklin’s campaign manager for her two mayoral races and chaired her transition team, Wells said the newly-elected mayor is well aware of how ACP has worked with City Hall over the past six years.
“I think Kasim will engage anyone who is willing to help and has skills to offer,” Wells said. “It’s a pretty strong start.”
And then when comparing how Atlanta’s business community has worked with city government under Franklin, Wells added: “It’s a rare and wonderful thing.”