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Metro Atlanta Chamber presents new Forward Atlanta economic plan

By Maria Saporta

The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s new strategic plan acknowledges that what has stimulated growth in the past no longer works in today’s regional economy.

Leaders from the Metro Atlanta Chamber unveiled the business organization’s Forward Atlanta plan Monday at the Rotary Club of Atlanta hoping that its new approach to economic development will restart the region’s economy.

The new strategic plan — which sets a plan through 2025 — was formulated with the help of the Boston Consulting Group and has been in the works for a year.

“When we started working on this a year ago, we knew that what we had done in the past would not work in the future,” said Carol Tomé, chief financial officer for Home Depot who is the 2012 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “The fundamental aspect of the strategy are five bold moves for our region.”

The five strategic areas are as follows:

Strategy One: Jump-start short and mid-term job growth.

That includes concentrating on jog growth from existing companies and startups in sub-clusters where Atlanta has national strength — wireless mobility, health information technology, internet security, biomedical devices and digital content.

Strategy Two: Catalyze on new business formation.

That includes creating an ecosystem that fosters new businesses, growing local venture funds and angel investments, and advocating for new business and investor tax incentives.

Strategy Three: Elevate quality of life and core infrastructure.

That includes promoting the expansion of the Port of Savannah, ensuring construction of transportation projects being on time and on budget, support the completion of reservoir projects, reinvigorating Pre-K through college education and publishing a regional scorecard for business and quality of life.

Strategy Four: Confidently tell our story.

That includes marketing Atlanta as a top university town, working with regional partners to promote assets and aspirations, establishing key talking points about Atlanta, and launching digital and social media campaigns on key Atlanta assets and opportunities.

Strategy Five: Drive strong higher education and business collaboration.

That includes increasing the links between the business community and higher education for research and development, strengthening new business formations at universities, helping prepare students for “jobs of the future,” and partnering with existing organizations such as the Georgia Research Alliance.

“Now more than ever, we need a real big jump start to help gain back what we have lost in the last decade and move our business community toward emerging industries and areas of success,” said Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises and past chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said a big part of the new economic development strategy will be to build closer collaborations with other public and private organizations such as the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Gov. Nathan Deal.

In fact, three of the top leaders of the Metro Atlanta Chamber — Tomé, Georgia Power President Paul Bowers and Donna Hyland, CEO of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — all served on the governor’s Competitive Initiative last year.

“We are going to be working hand-in-hand with everyone,” Brock said. “We are optimistic that the future of metro Atlanta is great.”

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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