By Maria Saporta
After years of holding most of its annual meeting in Wilmington, Del., the Coca-Cola Co. has moved its gathering for shareholders to metro Atlanta for the last two year.
It’s wonderful to have the Coca-Cola annual meeting in our town.
After all, the soft drink company’s roots run deep in our city. The secret formula was born here. The drink was first sold in Atlanta. And Coca-Cola has had its operating headquarters in Atlanta from the beginning.
At Wednesday morning’s annual meeting, Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent acknowledged the importance of the Atlanta region for the company — saying that many of its shareholders are Georgians.
The meeting was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Gwinnett Center on Sugarloaf Parkway for the second consecutive year.
“We are happy to be back in this beautiful Gwinnett Center,” Kent told shareholders. By meeting in Gwinnett County, Kent said the company was highlighting the “dynamic nature of our region,” and how it now has become a metropolis with about 5.5 million residents.
In his opening remarks, Kent also made two key points. One, the Coca-Cola Co. has a vision for how it will be in 2020 — “a roadmap of winning together to create the most efficient business system.”
The second key point was how Coca-Cola was working to be as sustainable as possible. Kent was especially proud of Coca-Cola being in the top 10 percent of companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
My question to Kent is this. How sustainable is it to hold the Coca-Cola annual meeting in Gwinnett County, where public transportation is hardly an option?
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud the Coca-Cola Co.’s decision to hold its annual meetings in the Atlanta region.
But wouldn’t it be more consistent with the company’s sustainability profile to hold its annual meeting in the heart of Atlanta?
Holding the annual meeting in downtown would give shareholders the option to take MARTA to the meeting; it would be close to the company’s international headquarters; it would be steps away from where Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognizable brands, was first invented and first sold; and a place near the World of Coke attraction.
Plus a central location would be most convenient for people who are traveling to Atlanta to attend the meeting from out of town and for residents who live throughout the region. It also would be a far more sustainable location because people wouldn’t have to drive to get to a meeting that’s 45 minutes north of the zero milepost.
Coca-Cola has held its annual meeting in downtown Atlanta at least twice — at the Georgia World Congress Center, one of the largest convention centers in the country.
Plus, by holding the annual meeting in downtown, Kent also would be sending a message that the Coca-Cola Co. believes in the heart of Atlanta by contributing to a vibrant and prosperous city.