Ernestine Garey named Atlanta Development Authority’s interim president

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Development Authority — economic development arm of the city of Atlanta — has named an interim president beginning April 1.

Ernestine Garey, who has been ADA’s managing director for housing finance, will fill the position that has been held by Peggy McCormick since March 31. McCormick submitted her resignation today saying her last day on the job will be on March 31. McCormick has worked with the city since 2002 when she serve as co-chair of Mayor Shirley Franklin’s transition team.

Mayor Kasim Reed, who chairs ADA’s board, said the city will launch an executive search for a permanent ADA president.

“Every day, our incredible team, our board and all of our economic development partners focus on achieving the aggressive goals of the mayor’s Economic Development Plan,” McCormick said in a statement. “Together we have made a positive impact on economic development for our city, for the people and employers that call Atlanta home and for the millions that visit each year.”

Garey has been with ADA for more than 10 years and has been instrumental in the issuance of more than $1 billion housing revenue bonds and in the creation of 15,000 units of affordable housing since 1986. Before joining ADA, she served as compliance administrator and deputy director of the Urban Residential Finance Authority, which has since been consolidated within the ADA.

Garey has a master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University, and she is the incoming vice president of the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies.

Mayor Reed has said he might make changes to Atlanta’s economic development initiatives.

Back in early January, Reed said he planned to create a new position of an economic development czar who would report directly to him. That person would be a liaison with the business community and be responsible for attracting jobs.

At the time, Reed said he would name that person within a week. I may have missed it, but as far as I know, an economic development czar has not yet been named.

When Reed announced that he would be creating that new position, Reed was asked how that czar would differ from the ADA.

“It differs because of the lack of layers. It gives speed to decisions,” Reed said. He said the czar would sit “40 feet away” from him while ADA is located in a building a couple of block away from City Hall.

In a follow-up question, Reed was asked if ADA would continue.

“The ADA will continue to function,” he said. “It is valuable and vital. But the role is a little less focused than what I have in mind. When small and mid-sized businesses have a problem or opportunity, they need someone to listen to.”

The ADA is charged with attracting economic development within the official city limits of Atlanta and serving its 530,000 residents. ADA is a research-based economic development organization that is focused on residential, business and investment growth in the city.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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