Metro Atlanta Chamber zeroing in on job prospects

The Metro Atlanta Chamber is making progress on its “New Economy” initiative, according to Rick Smith, the CEO of Equifax who is the current chair of the organization.

Smith shared that information in a brief interview after today’s Metro Atlanta Chamber’s board meeting.

The New Economy Task Force was established at the beginning to the year to identify the top strategic industries for metro Atlanta’s future economic development. The task force is co-chaired by Southern Co. CEO David Ratcliffe and Regions Bank executive Bill Linginfelter.

The consulting firm of Bain & Co. is providing research (free of charge) for the task force, which is made up of about 30 business and civic leaders.

Smith said the task force will likely make its recommendations in time for the June or July meeting of the organization, and that it currently is studying which “industries we want to target.”

More specifically, Smith said the goal is to go after companies that provide the best return for our region.

“We don’t want to just add jobs,” he said. “We want to add higher paying jobs.”
This is the not the first time that the Metro Atlanta Chamber has tried to target certain industries.

Back in the early 1990s, the chamber was focused on attracting the headquarters of major companies and top non-profits.

More recently, the chamber has targeted logistics and technology, with an emphasis on health and bioscience. The chamber also have been quite active in international economic development, including the rapidly-growing “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The chamber board meeting also was an opportunity for the business leaders to meet two of Atlanta’s newest university presidents — Georgia Tech’s Bud Peterson and Georgia State University’s Mark Becker.

And it was the first meeting for former Gov. Roy Barnes, who recently joined the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s board of advisors. Although he said hello to his fellow business leaders, Barnes gave no hint about whether he will run for governor in 2010.

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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