Column: Red Carpet Tour always a winner for Georgia

By Maria Saporta
Friday, April 9, 2010

Given the world’s focus on this year’s Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, 25 economic development prospects picked a good year to accept the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s invite to go on its annual Red Carpet Tour.

The Red Carpet Tour, a 51-year-old tradition, invites prospects to visit Georgia by offering them the carrot of being able to spend two days (Thursday and Saturday) watching the Masters tournament in Augusta.

The 2010 Red Carpet Tour began Wednesday, April 7, in Atlanta with a dinner at the Governor’s Mansion hosted by Gov. Sonny Perdue and his wife. In addition to going to the Masters on Thursday and Saturday, the Red Carpet Tour was scheduled to visit the Georgia coast on Friday, April 9, with stops in Brunswick and Jekyll Island.

Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said the Red Carpet Tour has been one of the state’s most effective recruiting tools.

“Historically, you can look at companies like Newell Rubbermaid and NCR. They were part of the Red Carpet Tour initially,” Stewart said. Both of those companies eventually relocated their corporate headquarters to metro Atlanta.

Stewart said that the successful recruitment of companies is born in relationships. “Getting them here is a big part of the process of closing the sale,” Stewart said.

The Georgia Chamber began the Red Carpet Tour in 1959 by John Dent, then the president of the business organization.

Since its inception, prospects who have been on the tour have generated more than $3.2 billion in new investment and created more than 15,000 jobs throughout the state.

The 2010 Tour has been chaired by Pat Wingo, assistant vice president of regulatory and external affairs for AT&T Georgia. The Brunswick portion of the program has been chaired by Mike Hodges, president of Ameris Bank in Brunswick. His co-chairs are Tim McGill, external manager for Georgia Power Co., and Colette Hughes, vice president and general manager of ADP Augusta Solution Center.

When the tour was being planned, neither the Georgia Chamber nor the prospects knew that the Masters would be the first tournament that Tiger Woods would play since revelations of Woods’ infidelity.

“We have had some good successes with the Red Carpet Tour,” Stewart said before speaking at the Buckhead Rotary Club on April 5. “We will continue to do the Red Carpet Tour as long as it’s successful.”

Tech’s Clough visits from D.C.

Former Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough said that serving as secretary of the Smithsonian Institution is much like running a university.

Clough became secretary of the Smithsonian in March 2008, taking over an organization saddled with mismanagement issues.

Clough returned to Georgia Tech on April 5 to attend the groundbreaking of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Center, an $85 million, 230,000-square-foot facility in the heart of campus.

Clough and his wife, Anne, never sold their Atlanta cluster home in Buckhead, and they return often to see their children and grandchildren. But they also are enjoying Washington, where they rarely drive. (Clough said he fills up his car once every two or three months.)

Clough said he “appreciated how big” the job would be to head up the Smithsonian with its 20 museums and nine research centers, and he has welcomed the challenge.

“Fundamentally, it is about education,” Clough said. Also, like running a university, Clough has to spend a great deal of his time fundraising. “Forty percent of our funding comes from private sources,” Clough said. “Last year, we raised $127 million. We do a lot of fundraising.”

Symphony exec heads to Detroit

Paul Hogle, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s vice president for Institutional Advancement and Learning, is leaving his job after nearly nine years. His last day will be April 30.

Hogle has been named vice president of patron and institutional development for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

“Aggressive major gift goals were set and achieved; the minority Talent Development Program endowment was doubled; and event income from our ball, golf tournament and show house prospered,” Hogle said. “And, of course, some $75 million in additional support was secured for the dream of an Atlanta Symphony Center.”

Community Foundation honored

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has won a national award for its work on improving outcomes for youth as they age out of the foster-care system.

The foundation received the Council on Foundations’ annual Paul Ylvisaker Award for Public Policy Engagement for its Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Opportunities Initiative (MAYOI). It’s the first time that the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has received an award in this category.

Breakfast with the Kents

The city of Atlanta is going to hold its 2010 State of the City Business Breakfast on Friday, April 16, at the Hilton Atlanta.

Two hosts will be The Coca-Cola Co. Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. Chairman and CEO Phil Kent.

The breakfast will feature Mayor Kasim Reed and City Council President Ceasar Mitchell.

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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