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Ed Martinez

UPS Foundation, Arthur Blank each drop $1 million for Hurricane Florence relief

The UPS Foundation announced Monday that it will provide more than $1 million to help disaster relief and long-term recovery assistance to communities impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Eduardo Martinez, president of the UPS Foundation, made the announcement Monday morning at the VII Atlanta Global Health Summit: Health, Resilience & Natural Disasters at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.

John Williams, Jay Williams and Lenny Silverstein

Atlanta developer John Williams – a friend to many – dies unexpectedly

Updated: A memorial service to celebrate the life of John A. Williams will be held on Monday, April 23 at 2 p.m. at Peachtree Presbyterian Church at 3434 Roswell Road NW, Atlanta, Ga. 30305.  A reception will follow the service at the Cherokee Town Club at 155 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta Ga 30305. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Piedmont Heart Institute or a charity of your choice

Duriya Farooqui John Dyer

Arthur Blank and Tony Ressler privately present their visions for downtown revitalization

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler both made presentations to the high-powered Atlanta Committee for Progress Friday morning.

The two team owners revealed their vision on how development and community revitalization around their sports facilities could transform downtown Atlanta.

The closed meeting, held in Cox Enterprises offices in Ponce City Market, included many of top business leaders in the Atlanta region as well as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Hopefully, soccer team can help unite fractured DeKalb County

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The Atlanta United soccer franchise plans to build its headquarters and $35 million training facility in DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Commission voted to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC. It would involve a $12 million investment by the county. Credit Atlanta United

The Atlanta United soccer franchise plans to build its headquarters and $35 million training facility in DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Commission voted to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC. It would involve a $12 million investment by the county.
Credit Atlanta United

The new Atlanta United soccer franchise announced Tuesday that it had chosen DeKalb County for its headquarters and $35 million training facility. The DeKalb Commission voted earlier that day to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC, one that would involve a $12 million investment by the county.

“Finally, something good is happening in DeKalb County.”

That’s what someone told me after the 4-3 vote by the DeKalb County Commission, approving an agreement with Atlanta United to locate its headquarters near the intersection of Memorial Drive and I-285.

That joy was short-lived.

A day later, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, who had been hired by DeKalb’s CEO Lee May to investigate possible corruption in the county, proclaimed that DeKalb was “rotten to the core.”

What a juxtaposition of highs and lows for Georgia’s fourth-largest county.

In recent years, several of DeKalb’s top officials have been indicted and found guilty of various ethical and legal breeches. It is a far cry from the DeKalb that existed 20 and 30 years ago when it was run by Manuel Maloof and Liane Levetan, both respected and powerful leaders in the region.

DeKalb leaders had hoped that the county’s tides were turning by winning the highly competitive Atlanta United headquarters.

On the day of the press briefing announcing the deal, the mood was uplifting, and team owner Arthur Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot, even became nostalgic about the decision. It was June 22, 1979, when Home Depot opened its very first store across the street from where Atlanta United plans to develop a 3,500-seat stadium and three additional soccer fields.

“It has come full circle,” Blank said, reflecting over his career. You see, for Blank, his investment in Atlanta’s Major League Soccer franchise is personal and close to his heart. He attended the event with his son, Joshua, an avid soccer fan and talented player.

Perhaps Atlanta United’s decision will improve the perception of a fractured DeKalb County and spark economic development in the Memorial Drive corridor.

But that may be too much to ask.

The county continues to be divided between North and South. Even the vote on the soccer facility was split, with the white commissioners voting against it, and the black commissioners voting for it.

It is too bad that the Atlanta United soccer franchise, located in “Central” DeKalb, has not yet united the county.

But as Blank said, the decision to base the soccer team at that location, felt like a spiritual journey for him, a coming home.

Let’s hope DeKalb’s journey will fuse a divided county into a united DeKalb.

 

Atlanta’s new soccer team could be symbol for unity

Original Story on WABE By MARIA SAPORTA
Soccer fans still have to wait about a year and a half before they will be able to go to a match to see Atlanta’s pro team at the new downtown stadium. But when owner Professional soccer is heading to Atlanta, and fans are ready.  Arthur Blank officially unveiled the team’s new name – Atlanta United FC – and its new logo at a rowdy event Tuesday, and the crowd of 4,000 fans could not have been more excited!

When it comes to sports in Georgia, frenzy is usually associated with college football or NASCAR … maybe the Falcons, the Hawks or the Braves.

But soccer?

Well all that is beginning to change.

Soccer is already the most popular game in the world, and now it is solidly taking hold in Atlanta. We just have a team name and a logo, yet we don’t even have any players.

But the thousands of Atlanta fans who recently showed up at SOHO Lounge in west Midtown to see Blank and Don Garber — commissioner of Major League Soccer — were cheering so loudly, you would have thought we had just won a championship.

Garber was so pumped! He talked about how the new America is discovering soccer, adding, “This new America is right here in Atlanta.”

Some may think the name, Atlanta United, is boring. But Blank said that focus group after focus group suggested the theme of Atlanta was all about unity and coming together.

He looked around at the generational, ethnic and racial diversity of the people who gathered for the announcement and said, “This is Atlanta.”

He knew that was why the new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United belonged in the heart of the city.

“Urban downtown stadiums are so exciting because they are attracting the people who are here tonight,” Blank said.

When the Georgia Dome hosted the soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria in March 2014, we witnessed the multicultural energy of that new America, of that new Atlanta.

Centennial Olympic Park and all of downtown had been transformed into our own United Nations. Yes, this is the future.

As one leader told me at the time … the Atlanta Braves are going to realize that their decision to move to Cobb County was so last century.

Thank you, Arthur Blank, for bringing professional soccer to the heart of the city and for uniting Atlanta in the 21st century.

new Falcons stadium

New Atlanta Falcons stadium costs rise up to $1.5 billion

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank does not know how to say “No,” and that is costing him another $100 million.

During a panel discussion at the Rotary Club of Atlanta Monday on the rejuvenation of the westside neighborhoods, Blank let it slip out that we view the “$1.5 billion stadium” as an incredible investment.

Dreams of jobs training hit reality; Atlanta vows it won’t surrender

Less than 10 percent of those who applied for a job-training program initiated by Falcons team owner Arthur Blank passed the drug test required for acceptance to the program, according to Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory L. Young, Jr.

Young cited the figure to illustrate the challenge of job training for individuals who have troubles past or present. Of 160 applicants, 18 were accepted, he said.

Atlanta’s new workforce law among possible community agreements to be addressed by city, Falcons

A central question facing the Atlanta City Council is how to harness the city’s influence in the proposed deal to help pay for the planned Falcons stadium.

Just this month, the city enacted a new law that seems to require the stadium’s builders to hire a certain proportion of disadvantaged and underemployed residents. Falcons President Rich McKay said the team is committed to such social objectives – and that they will be addressed.

In addition, some on the council want the new stadium to address blight in nearby neighborhoods, specifically along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. However, Councilmember Michael Julian Bond noted that the project can’t be a panacea for, “every social ill under the sun.”

Atlanta Council looks for ways stadium deal could be required to help residents, nearby neighborhoods

In about three weeks, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s staff expects to deliver to the city council the meat of the legislation that will enable the city council to vote to help fund a new Falcons stadium.

Given the level of support for the new stadium voiced by several councilmembers, its evident some of them will spend the next three weeks figuring out how to ensure that community benefits agreements are created to help city residents and the neighborhoods around. Such concerns were a major issue at the council’s four-hour work session Wednesday.

Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay assured the council several times that team owner Arthur Blank is committed to being a good civic partner. McKay emphasized that Penny McPhee, president of the Blank Foundation, will oversee that outreach effort.

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal: ‘incumbent on us’ to not lose the Falcons to Los Angeles

By Maria Saporta

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday it would be a big loss for the state if the Atlanta Falcons were to move to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, one of the top media markets in the country, has been seeking a football team for years. Reportedly, Arthur Blank has told Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other officials that he has been approached by Los Angeles leaders who are interested in him moving the Falcons to the Southern California city.

“It’s incumbent on us to make sure we don’t lose the franchise,” Deal said after being recognized as the 2013 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend magazine at its annual 100 Most Influential Georgians luncheon.

Atlanta Falcons have helped revive community spirit — win or lose

By Maria Saporta

The energy — and the tension — in the Georgia Dome on Sunday captures a feeling that has been lost in recent years — a feeling of being in the game.

The last five years have been tough for Atlanta, a city used to being an economic star in the country. The Great Recession hit Atlanta harder than most other cities because it targeted the real estate and banking — two industries that had helped build Atlanta.

And yet, during Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers, the city’s troubles are put aside as people rallied behind a team that is only one win away from the Super Bowl.

Urban Atlanta youth use muscle, risk to master complexities of the harp

Of all the instruments, one of the biggest and heaviest, most expensive and most exotic is the harp. A performer must play each foot and hand separately, using everything but pinkies to create the ethereal notes.

That is the muscle behind the dreamy soundtrack of the Atlanta Urban Youth Harp Ensemble. Most of these young musicians have overcome major disadvantages to master the instrument’s complexity, earn gigs at local weddings and events, qualify for college scholarships and position themselves for professional music careers.

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Arthur Blank’s 1978 firing led to Home Depot, Falcons re-birth and countless benefits for Atlanta

By Chris Schroder

The story of the phoenix – the mythical bird that rose from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle – is often interwoven with the history of Atlanta. Yet no phoenix-like business story has so benefited our region as that Moment in 1978 when Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus were fired.

“We were running the most successful home improvement company in the country at that time,” Arthur told us while filming our accompanying Moments video. “So when we got fired during what was supposed to be a five-year budget meeting, we were both shocked.”

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Doug Hertz’ Moment was realizing so many nonprofit groups were counting on his idea

By Chris Schroder

Doug Hertz wears a lot of hats these days, but a couple of weeks ago he was worried he wasn’t wearing the right shirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a Falcons shirt – after all, he’s an owner now.

But on this day, he was supposed to be talking about Camp Twin Lakes, which he founded 20 years ago after he spotted and then solved a common issue among nonprofit groups serving children with various kinds of illnesses. These camps all needed a home – and the ability to provide custom medical services.

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Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff’s Moment was seeing his mom and dad together one last time

By Chris Schroder

Thomas Dimitroff likes to live life in the fast lane. In his free time, you will find the highly successful general manager of the Atlanta Falcons pushing the limits in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing or riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Under his management, the Falcons have had four consecutive winning seasons, made three playoff appearances and have reset expectations to be considered as one of the elite teams in the NFL.