City faces ‘distinct’ choices among three finalists for Invest Atlanta CEO

By Maria Saporta

The City of Atlanta has three distinct choices when it comes to selecting a new CEO for its economic development arm – Invest Atlanta.

“We have narrowed down the search for President and CEO of Invest Atlanta to three results-oriented professionals who have extensive experience in economic development and job creation,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, in a statement. “All three candidates have the leadership abilities to continue the important work of the agency by creating jobs and opportunity for the people of Atlanta.”

The three finalists are (in alphabetical order):

  • Gregory Buckley, former COO of the Gibson Guitar Corp., an entrepreneur who has more than 20 years experience as an entrepreneur and private equity investor;
  • Eloisa Klementich, managing director of Invest Atlanta, who served as a special assistant for economic development at the U.S. Economic Development Administration; and
  • Craig J. Richard, former president and CEO of the Greater Louisville Inc., and a former senior vice president of economic development and chief economic development officer at the Greater Houston Partnership.

“I feel like the city has three distinct and professional candidates to choose from,” said Brian McGowan, who chaired the search committee and was CEO of Invest Atlanta until he resigned in early 2014 to become the chief operating officer of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “It is my opinion that any one of them would be a great CEO for Invest Atlanta.”

McGowan, who was interviewed in a brief phone call on Friday afternoon, said he was honored to help the Invest Atlanta and its board as well as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed throughout the search process. He also said he was glad that he didn’t have to be making the final selection.

“It’s a hard decision, and I think that’s why it’s taken this long,” McGowan said. “They bring very different attributes and perspectives to Invest Atlanta. The mayor and Invest Atlanta now has a hard choice in front of them.”

McGowan then laughed, and said, “I did my job.”

So why are the choices so tough?

The city can choose between an entrepreneurial executive who has experience in business but no real background in the complicated public-private world of economic development. That would be Gregory Buckley.

Throughout his career, Buckley has sourced, led, and repositioned publicly-held, privately-held, and private-equity-owned businesses ranging from $20 million to $1 billion. He has deep experience in a range of industries, including consumer products, restaurants, food & beverage, distribution, logistics, and manufacturing. Buckley has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSME from the University of Michigan.

Or the city can chose an economic development professional who has had experience on the international, federal and statewide level – Eloisa Klementich.

She also has another built-in advantage. She already is working for Invest Atlanta as managing director of business development so she would not need any transition time to lead the organization.

In addition to serving for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, she served as California’s assistant deputy secretary for economic development and commerce. She also worked as a consultant for Mexico’s President Vicente Fox,

working on best practices for addressing constituent issues and requests.

Klementich holds a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College and a master’s degree in business administration from el Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey.

She holds two master’s degrees in urban planning and Latin American affairs from the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her doctorate degree in public administration from the University of LaVerne.

Or the City of Atlanta can go with a seasoned economic development professional – Craig Richard, who has worked in two major urban markets — Louisville and Houston.

Richard is a Certified Economic Developer with extensive experience on many different levels of economic development from neighborhood-based to state level organizations. He also has experience in various disciplines of economic development including recruitment, retention and expansion, technology, and small business development.

Richard received his Master of Urban and Regional Planning with a concentration in economic development from Virginia Commonwealth University. He earned his Bachelor of General Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute.

The Atlanta-based search firm of Jorgenson Consulting conducted the executive search under a contract with Invest Atlanta.

A press release issued by the mayor did not elaborate on the timing of when a new Invest Atlanta CEO would be named. The next regularly scheduled board meeting of Invest Atlanta is Nov. 20. Mayor Reed serves as the board chairman of Invest Atlanta.

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.

6 replies
  1. ChristiePeters says:

    Of the three, Ms. Eloisa Klementich seems to have the most well rounded experience at first blush.  I think her familiarity with Invest Atlanta allows a shorter learning curve, she has the econ. dev. experience and international expertise so important in this global economy.Report

    Reply
  2. ChristiePeters says:

    Of the three, Ms. Eloisa Klementich seems to have the most well rounded experience at first blush.  I think her familiarity with Invest Atlanta allows a shorter learning curve, she has the econ. dev. experience and international expertise so important in this global economy.Report

    Reply
  3. urban gardener says:

    I am very leery of insiders. Outside perspectives often are a good thing, and sometimes have fewer chits owed to the establishment. I think i’d prefer someone with an actual planning degree at this point, although i’m very partial to Gibson guitars~Report

    Reply
  4. urban gardener says:

    I am very leery of insiders. Outside perspectives often are a good thing, and sometimes have fewer chits owed to the establishment. I think i’d prefer someone with an actual planning degree at this point, although i’m very partial to Gibson guitars~Report

    Reply
  5. ChristiePeters says:

    @Urban gardener  I agree with the logic of selecting someone with a planning degree but I don’t think someone should necessarily be ruled out because they are in house.  We shall have to wait and see.  I am just hopeful whomever is selected will have a vision of Atlanta 20 and 50 years from now so that it can become the phenomenal city I know it can be.Report

    Reply
  6. ChristiePeters says:

    @Urban gardener  I agree with the logic of selecting someone with a planning degree but I don’t think someone should necessarily be ruled out because they are in house.  We shall have to wait and see.  I am just hopeful whomever is selected will have a vision of Atlanta 20 and 50 years from now so that it can become the phenomenal city I know it can be.Report

    Reply

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