Column: CCE’s Brock will chair Metro Chamber in 2011
By Maria Saporta
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Metro Atlanta Chamber has nailed down its leaders through 2011.
John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., has agreed to chair the chamber’s board in 2011, which means he will become chairman-elect next month.
He will follow Bill Linginfelter, Regions Bank area president for Georgia and South Carolina, who will take over as the chamber’s chairman on Dec. 4. That will mark the end of Equifax Inc. CEO Rick Smith’s tenure in that role.
Brock becomes the first executive from CCE, the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler, to serve as chairman of the Metro Chamber.
“I’m very excited about it,” Brock said. “I have been involved with the chamber for three and a half years, ever since I got here. Sam Williams and his whole staff do a tremendous job with the region.”
Brock has been chairing the chamber’s environmental committee. He also is serving as co-chairman of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Water Contingency Task Force, which includes about 80 representatives from the business, government and environmental communities charged with preparing the region to have adequate water for years to come.
Brock said his work at the chamber “fits beautifully” with CCE’s commitment to sustainability and water conservation.
“John Brock is such an outstanding leader, and he understands probably more than anybody on our board the water issue, which will be the No. 1 issue facing our region for the next decade,” said Williams, president of the chamber. “John understands that, and he has a good relationship with regional leaders and state leaders.”
Smith said he spent a lot of time talking to Brock about what was involved with becoming chairman of the chamber, arguably one of the highest-profile civic roles in the state.
“I think it’s important for public company CEOs to be active in the community,” Smith said, adding that the chamber will be celebrating its 150th annual meeting next month. “That long legacy has infiltrated the business community so deeply that executives are honored to take a leadership role. It has been an honor for me.”
When Brock becomes chairman of the Metro Chamber, the state will have just elected a new governor, and the next mayor of Atlanta will have been in office for less than a year.
“We want to build a positive, constructive relationship with the new leaders,” Brock said. “We really want to.”
Public safety first
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation is making a $1 million grant to the Atlanta Police Foundation — the lead gift for the organization’s $7 million, three-year “Public Safety First” campaign.
“I could not be more appreciative of the Woodruff Foundation and the leadership it has shown to get this campaign kicked off,” said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the privately supported foundation that supports the city of Atlanta’s public safety efforts.
Wilkinson said the foundation has been meeting with the mayoral candidates to discuss Atlanta’s public safety issues, including the recruitment and retention of police officers.
When Shirley Franklin was elected mayor in 2003, the city had 1,400 police officers. In July 2008, the city reached an all-time high of 1,784 officers. But with furloughs and budget cuts, now the city is down to 1,675 officers.
“We are at a critical juncture in this city when it comes to public safety,” Wilkinson said, adding that the foundation has been developing a series of strategic reports on what the city can do to improve its public safety profile. “We wanted to make sure the next mayor could hit the ground running. Each of the mayoral candidates are fully supportive of this.”
Wilkinson said the foundation’s campaign will provide educational scholarships to more than 500 officers, which will ensure a more educated workforce with higher morale and lower attrition. The foundation also is putting in place a plan to help the city recruit more than 900 new officers over the next three years.
“We want to get to 2,000 officers as soon as we can,” Wilkinson said.
One of the major issues the next mayor will face will be the hiring of a new police chief. Wilkinson said the foundation stands ready to help the new administration find the most qualified candidate for that position.
Russ Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation, said the Atlanta Police Foundation has gained credibility in the community, and that the next mayor “needs to have them at the table” during the search for a new police commissioner and to help improve the city’s public safety efforts.
“We think they are a very good influence in the city,” Hardin said.
Huckabee to keynote Georgia Chamber
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce will have former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee as its keynote speaker at its annual dinner meeting on Jan. 11, 2010.
Huckabee, who won the 2008 Republican primary in Georgia, is a best-selling author and a weekend television host of “Huckabee” on Fox News. Huckabee also served as the 44th governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 before launching his presidential campaign.
At its annual meeting, the Georgia Chamber will have a change in leadership. Georgia Power Co. CEO Mike Garrett will turn over the role of chairman to Suzanne Sitherwood, president of Atlanta Gas Light Co.
Light the Night
The Light the Night annual walk last month raised $1.3 million in Atlanta for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The society raised a total of $1.8 million in Georgia with walks scheduled at twilight with illuminated balloons in Albany, Athens, Augusta and Savannah during 2009.
Carter’s Inc., the largest branded marketer of young children’s apparel in the United States, raised more than $450,000 nationwide for the society, with $300,000 of that being raised in Georgia. More than 1,000 of its employees participated in the Light the Night event at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 10.