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Invest Atlanta CEO Brian McGowan to join Metro Atlanta Chamber as COO

By Maria Saporta

The Metro Atlanta Chamber announced today that Brian McGowan is being named executive vice president and chief operating officer — a new position for the business organization.

McGowan has been serving as president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, the economic development arm for the City of Atlanta, since 2011. He was lured to the city by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Since coming to Atlanta, he has been leading the city’s economic development and job growth initiatives.

His start date with the Metro Atlanta Chamber will be April 28.

Brian McGowan

Brian McGowan

“Brian’s leadership reinventing the Atlanta Development Authority into Invest Atlanta demonstrates the kind of creative thinking that MAC needs as we move into year two of our strategic plan,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Brian joins MAC in a newly created role that will bring together his expertise in economic development and knowledge of Atlanta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. I am grateful to Mayor Reed for bringing talent like Brian to Atlanta to further strengthen our region’s global competitiveness.”

McGowan will focus on strategic transformation and building new regional economic development initiatives collaborating across all Chamber functions. Additionally, he will oversee the administration of human resources, IT, finance and building operations.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber also has launched a search for chief economic development officer to fulfill the vacancy left by Hans Gant, the senior vice president for economic expansion, who resigned last month.

It is unclear how McGowan’s position will interface or be integrated with the Chamber’s chief economic development officer.

While at Invest Atlanta, McGowan was tasked by the board to transform what was then called the Atlanta Development Authority into a world-class economic development organization. Over the last three years, he fiscally stabilized the organization and rebranded the City of Atlanta’s approach to economic development.

McGowan helped to create nearly 18,000 jobs, totaling new investment of $1.56 billion, including major business attraction wins such as Pulte Homes, athenahealth, ExactTarget, Panasonic and Carter’s.

“Brian McGowan was instrumental in the re-positioning and growth of Invest Atlanta,” Mayor Reed in a release.  “I am confident that he will have continued success at the Metro Atlanta Chamber and believe he will continue to play a vital role in bringing new businesses to the city and the metropolitan Atlanta region.”

At Invest Atlanta, McGowan also launched new programs such as StartUp Atlanta, the Business Retention and Expansion program, Home Atlanta, the Catalyst Fund, Neighborhood Lift, the Façade Improvement Program and supported the Better Buildings Challenge through a new grant program.

He also directed the creation of comprehensive housing, economic development and workforce development strategies and reformed the city’s Tax Allocation District program, which includes the Atlanta BeltLine. As a member of Mayor Reed’s cabinet, he was part of the team that negotiated the new Falcons multi-purpose stadium, community benefits plan process and served as a member of the stadium design committee.

Before moving to Atlanta in 2011, McGowan was appointed by President Barack Obama as U.S. deputy assistant secretary of commerce, and served as a senior economic advisor in the White House National Incident Command for the BP oil spill.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he served as deputy secretary for economic development and commerce under California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I am excited to join the Metro Atlanta Chamber and work to execute on the five-year strategic plan to continue growing the region as an economic powerhouse,” McGowan said. “This is one of the largest and most economically dynamic metropolitan regions in the United States, and I look forward to working with our members and partners to continue to grow through innovation and regional collaboration.”

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.



  1. scfranklin March 13, 2014 1:14 pm

    Congratulations to Brian.Report

  2. atlman March 14, 2014 11:59 am

    Though some of the conservative north Atlanta and suburbanite types (the anti-regionalism/anti-downtown crowd) won’t like it, this is positive news. It will help steer more private development and public-private partnerships to Atlanta.Report

  3. atlman March 14, 2014 2:18 pm


    Have you run across this?

    Not just this major project by itself that would result in THOUSANDS of mostly upper income people to Midtown. And that is not all.

    “The project comes as Atlanta goes through a high-rise rental boom.
    At least a half dozen apartment towers are either in planning or under way in the city.
    Capital is pouring into the city.
    Atlanta now ranks ninth in the most active markets globally for apartment investment, according to the latest data from Real Capital Analytics, a New York firm that tracks real estate deals.
    Last year alone, the city’s intown properties, including trophy buildings, mixed-use developments and apartment towers, attracted almost $1.4 billion in new investment, Real Capital said. That’s the most since $1.9 billion in 2007, the last good year before the market collapsed.”
    And yet certain people still insist that A) Reed has been a bad mayor and B) Atlanta is cratering in on itself, becoming the next Detroit because it is a majority-nonwhite area with political leadership to reflect it. And I see these developments every time I drive home from work from Cobb (fortunately I will be able to avoid the traffic mess that will be the Braves stadium, if I have not found a job downtown by then). This is exactly why Atlanta will be over 500,000 by the next census.Report

  4. JBVick March 14, 2014 6:58 pm

    Brian McGowan is a smart, hard working guy and we are lucky to have him and the others he brought with him to Invest Atlanta,  working on our behalf of our city.  While its our loss, its the Chambers gain and hopefully the Mayor has made plans to replace him with someone just as much the visionary as Brian.Report

  5. Guest March 16, 2014 6:12 pm

    Brian McGowan is smart enough to distance himself from Kasim Reed, because all hell is going to start breaking loose soon enough – Sally Yates, Hartsfield Concessions, Kasim Reed, and his many girlfriends.Report


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