Delta’s Ed Bastian to chair Metro Atlanta Chamber in 2021

By Maria Saporta

In time with its annual luncheon meeting today (Nov. 29), Metro Atlanta Chamber is announcing that has lined up its future executive leaders through 2021.

The newest announcement is that Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, will chair the chamber in 2021, continuing the deep involvement the airline has had with the business organization. Former Delta CEO Richard Anderson served as the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s chairman in 2014.

Ed Bastian

Ed Bastian at the Delta Flight Museum in October, 2017 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

So the line-up is as follows:

Dave Abney, CEO of UPS, became the 2019 chairman on Thursday – taking the gavel from Russell Stokes, CEO of GE Power who will soon be taking over the company’s non-gas businesses in a new division that will be known as GE Power Portfolio.

Martin Flannagan, CEO of Invesco, will chair the chamber in 2020.

Hala Moddelmog, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, remarked that Delta’s Anderson was chairman during her first year running the organization. With Bastian chairing the Chamber in 2021, it will feel like a closing of the circle.

The annual meeting was being held at the recently renovated State Farm Arena. Last year’s annual meeting was held at Mercedes Benz Stadium, which had just opened a few months earlier.

The 2018 annual meeting put a spotlight on Gov. Nathan Deal, who had developed a close working relationship with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the City of Atlanta.

Under his leadership, Georgia has been named six years in a row as the best state for business by Site Selection Magazine. Also, Deal preserved Georgia’s economic competitiveness when he vetoed a religious liberty bill, which some feared could be used to discriminate against the lesbian and gay community.

In a briefing before the annual meeting, Chamber officials were circumspect when talking about public policy issues advocated by  Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who pledged during the campaign that he would support religious liberty legislation.

“Regardless of who is elected, our priorities don’t change,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, chief policy officer for the Metro chamber. “We are looking forward to working with the Kemp team.”

Kemp is not attending the Chamber luncheon on Thursday because “he was scheduled to be out of town,” Kirkpatrick said.

Blake, Waller and Bastian

The Atlanta directors at Delta Air Lines’ 2017 annual meeting – Chairman Frank Blake; Coca-Cola’s Kathy Waller and CEO Ed Bastian (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also was on the program to talk about the city’s recent economic development wins.

The other highlight of the annual meeting was previewing plans for the 2019 Super Bowl, which will be held in Atlanta on Feb. 3. Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council and chair of the Super Bowl LIII Host Committee, spoke about the importance of sports to the city’s overall economy.

One of the Chamber’s main priorities in 2019 will be on strengthening the region’s workforce and making sure metro residents have the skills needed for the jobs that are available.

“Talent is driving growth and redefining how the world sees metro Atlanta,” UPS’s David Abney said in a statement. “Feeding our talent pipeline will remain a priority as we work to create strong workforce development programs and advocate for education policy that creates opportunities for all.”

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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