The man largely responsible for bringing the event to
He might just achieve that goal, for he has almost the whole city behind him. In fact, the main supporters of Billy Payne’s Olympic effort comprise virtually the entire
With a metropolitan population of almost three million,
But despite this rosy glow, the recession is pounding
But if unemployment is on the rise, so are the profits of many of
Though no longer booming as it did in the 1980s,
“Executives love to come here because we are the ultimate suburban dream,” says a local journalist. “They come here for the sameness. There’s nothing old about
Now chairman and CEO at $34.6 billion-asset SunTrust, Williams heads
But make no mistake: Coca-Cola’s Roberto C. Goizueta (“Never call him Bob,” warns a PR man) is the undisputed ruler of
Goizueta embodies that prestige. Anointed by his predecessor, Coke’s legendary CEO Robert W. Woodruff, Goizueta has an aura of hereditary rulership about him that his aristocratic Cuban background and Yale education do nothing to dispel. “Roberto Goizueta,” says a well-placed Atlantan, “is the `godfather’ of
In order to avoid conflict with Coca-Cola divisions abroad that were supporting other contending cities, the company did not directly support Billy Payne’s Olympic bid-although Brian G. Dyson’s Coca-Cola Enterprises did contribute to Payne’s initial campaign. But a second line of support formed easily because of Payne’s connections to
Holder helped to forge modern
By 1990, H.J. Russell had become one of the top ten black-owned businesses in
Andrew Young-who succeeded
No Atlanta CEO would dream of saying that for publication, jeopardizing the fragile-but crucial-links between the black and white communities.
“Atlanta and the South have a different way of doing business than any other part of the country,” says Atlanta Journal business columnist Maria Saporta. “Manners are very important. You don’t dress anybody down, in public or in private. You do things quietly and with respect.
“Southerners have the sweetest way of telling you to get lost. But if you’re a Southerner yourself, you know what they’re saying. Some people may think that’s hypocritical, but it’s also a way of not letting business spoil manners.”
Meanwhile, the most influential business group is Central Atlanta Progress, or CAP, whose full time president, until recently, was Joseph G. Martin. Joe Martin’s mentor is said to be Lawrence L. Gellerstedt Jr., chairman of Beers Inc., Atlanta’s largest construction company. To round out the inner circle, Beers worked with Herman Russell to build the Carter Presidential Center on the Emory University campus.
Without exception, business leaders hope to share in the financial bonanza that will accompany the Olympic Games. But the black residents of downtown and midtown Atlanta also want a piece of the action, especially those in the Summerhill and Techwood Homes neighborhoods. Their situation concerns Atlanta, if only because the city’s neglected areas could be a source of international shame when the Olympic spotlight shines in 1996.
The main Olympic stadium will be in Summerhill, and Olympic athletes will be housed in a new village on the Georgia Tech campus. The school adjoins both Coca-Cola headquarters and the Tech-wood Homes, the oldest, if not the happiest, U.S. housing project.
These days, as a recent article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution noted: “Downtown’s declining importance is due to shifting demographics, a pervasive fear of crime, racism and a rejection of urban life.” Those factors have brought more than 80 percent of metropolitan Atlanta’s job growth to northern parts of the city or its suburbs, areas like Buckhead, Sandy Springs and Chamblee. “Thousands of people new to Atlanta have never been downtown,” the article continued.
“To many of them, especially white suburbanites, downtown looks unfamiliar.”
Attempts to revive downtown and the area just north of it have included the building of Underground Atlanta (an attractive complex of shops and restaurants on the site of the original city center), various sports and convention complexes and the new One Peachtree Center, designed by the famed Atlanta architect and builder John Portman. But the recent abandonment of the historic Rich’s downtown department store only emphasized the area’s overall decline.
So, as the 1996 Olympics approach, lines are being drawn and positions taken about whether and how the Olympic construction program will permanently benefit Atlanta’s downtown and central areas. City Hall, the Olympic Committee, and various neighborhood organizations are all involved in the maneuevering, as is the business community and its leading CEOs.
Significantly, influential Joe Martin resigned from CAP in order to devote himself full-time to inner city problems-at the request of Mayor Jackson and with the reported blessings of CAP’s power brokers. Martin, also the builder of Underground Atlanta, will seek to act as a mediator between neighborhood groups and City Hall on one side, and Billy Payne’s ACOG and developers on the other. Ken Anderberg, editor of Business Atlanta magazine, maintains Martin “will have to soothe the neighborhood activists who fear for the future of their homes, while holding at bay those people who would simply level those neighborhoods.”
The outcome of these particular games likely will determine Atlanta’s future.