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Business leaders willing to keep working with Atlanta

The Atlanta Committee for Progress plans to keep going — at least until a new mayor is elected.

The committee, which was put together in 2003 by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, includes the top CEOs in the metro region who serve as a kitchen cabinet to help the city implement its priorities and work through its challenges.

The committee met this morning for its quarterly meeting at the World Trade Center. The mayor had to leave right after the meeting to monitor the Atlanta City Council votes for a mil increase and for the city’s budget.

But ACP Chairman Jim Wells, CEO of SunTrust Bank, said after the meeting that the organization remains engaged by helping Franklin push forward her top priorities.

The question is whether the next mayor will want to continue the Atlanta Committee for Progress or create his or own organization to interface with the business community.

“It’s one of those things that if it’s desired to be a useful part of the process, we are willing,” Wells said. “But we are not looking for work.”

Then speaking for Franklin, Wells said: ‘I think the mayor would say it’s been highly effective for her.”

Wells said the committee has enough funding to continue through the end of the year. At that time, a new mayor will have been elected, and the group will know whether it should re-up its commitment.

New board members continue to join the committee. Among the newest are; Larry Gellerstedt, who becomes CEO of Cousins Properties this week; Jimmy Hayes, CEO of Cox Enterprises; Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson and developer Ray Weeks, who has been instrumental in the development of the Atlanta Beltline Partnership.

Other new members include: Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University; Darryl Harmon, Southeast regional president for Wells Fargo (the new parent company of Wachovia); and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.

“The organization and the people on the organization think it’s been a wonderful thing that has happened,” Wells said of ACP. “If we assume that ACP continues, we will be concerned about the things you would expect us to be concerned about.”

Maria Saporta

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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