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ATL Business Chronicle Maria Saporta

H.J Russell & Co. pick president and CEO of the Russell Center

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 16, 2018

The family of H.J Russell & Co. has selected James “Jay” Bailey as president and CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship based at the company’s former headquarters.

Jay Bailey

Jay Bailey at the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, which is under construction (Photo by Cliff Robinson, courtesy of RCIE)

“Growing up in Atlanta, Herman Russell was one of my greatest heroes,” Bailey said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to build on his incredible legacy, paving the way for the next generation of doers, innovators and job creators.”

Bailey joins RCIE with more than a decade of leadership experience in the non-profit and economic empowerment space. Atlanta’s Boardwalk Consulting of Atlanta led the search.

Prior to joining RCIE, Bailey founded an innovative private equity firm – Greenwood Archer – dedicated to reimagining the way America’s most under-served communities leverage assets, establish wealth, strengthen infrastructure and create jobs.

And before Greenwood Archer, Bailey served as CEO for the Southeastern Region of Operation HOPE, a global nonprofit organization focused on financial literacy. Bailey helped grow the Southeastern region from a single person office in 2007 to 19 offices by 2015 – serving more than 160,000 youth, adults and families start businesses, buy homes, raise credit scores and increase their financial dignity.

“We are excited about folding Jay’s vision for RCIE in with the vision of two generations of Russells, who have been plotting and planning RCIE since the initial announcement in 2016,” said Jerome Russell, president of H.J. Russell & Co. and chair of the RCIE board. “He brings the experience, passion and energy we believe necessary to lead the Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship from concept to reality.”

Jay Bailey

Jay Bailey in front of the future Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship on Fair Street (Photo by Cliff Robinson, courtesy of RCIE)

Currently in the development stages, RCIE is scheduled to open in late 2018. RCIE will house a 40,000-square-foot, world-class, entrepreneurial innovation and leadership center located in Atlanta’s historic Castleberry Hill industrial neighborhood.

“Much more than another accelerator or incubator, we want RCIE to become the epicenter of economic advancement and entrepreneurship for under-represented communities across the country,” Bailey said. “It’s so fitting that it will evolve in the former H.J. Russell & Co. headquarters at 504 Fair Street on Atlanta’s Westside.”

Jerome Russell agreed.

“RCIE will be a game changer for entrepreneurs in the city of Atlanta and beyond, connecting the next generation of revolutionary entrepreneurs to the tools and relationships needed to turn dreams into reality,” he said.

The Russell family and its companies have been among the leading African-American business leaders in Atlanta and the nation.

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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