Linginfelter tells Rotary about New Economy Report

By Maria Saporta

Last summer, the Metro Atlanta Chamber released its New Economy Task Force report on what the region needs to do to remain competitive in growing and attracting new jobs.

So the Rotary Club of Atlanta thought it would be a good idea to have David Ratcliffe, who chaired the New Economy Task Force, give a talk on the report’s findings.

Ratcliffe was invited to speak at the Nov. 9 Rotary meeting.

But when Ratcliffe came, instead of speaking about the New Economy Task Force, he spoke about the Southern Co., the energy industry and proposed global warming legislation.

As Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said, what they had was “a failure to communicate.”

So Rotary invited Bill Linginfelter, Regions Bank’s area president for Georgia and South Carolina, to do the New Economy report. Linginfelter has just become the new chairman for the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

After being introduced by Lockhart, without missing a beat, Linginfelter said: “So the speech on Regions Bank goes away….”

In all seriousness, there was no failure to communicate on the topic of Linginfelter’s talk.

Metro Atlanta and Georgia need to do all they can to remain competitive, Linginfelter said.

“Texas spends $430 million a year on economic incentives; Florida invests $388 million; North Carolina invests $111 million; Georgia only invests $89 million, and most of this is dedicated to rural Georgia,” Linginfelter said.

Linginfelter urged Rotarians to push for economic development legislation — including incentives, workforce development, venture capital, etc. — to make Georgia more competitive with other states.

During the question and answer period, Shepherd Center co-founder James Shepherd asked Linginfelter about opinions in the bioscience community about proposed legislation to restrict stem cell research in Georgia. Bioscience is one of the industry sectors targeted by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Research Alliance, Georgia Bio and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“Stem cell research laws are adamantly watched all over the country,” Linginfelter said. “They (bioscience companies) are going to go where they believe they have a home and are able to do the research.”

By the way, Linginfelter also is chairman of the Georgia Research Alliance.

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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