Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Economic Impact, Public Policy Help to “Imagine Atlanta” of the Future

John Tabellione

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Whether you’re a corporate executive, small businessperson, entrepreneur or resident of its 29-county MSA, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) stands ready to welcome, address and enhance your business and quality of life, according to Hala Moddelmog, Chamber President and CEO. 

Moddelmog brings a unique background to her position, having been president of Arby’s Restaurant Group, and previously, the first female president of Church’s Chicken. Couple this with her experience as CEO of the non-profit Susan G. Komen and it becomes apparent that she inherently understands the needs and challenges of her organization’s diverse investors.

After only one year in her position at MAC, Moddelmog and her team have recorded several achievements that bear out the organization’s mission in both economic development and public policy. To start, in 2014, MAC worked with its economic development partners to create 8,392 direct new jobs and recruit or expand 64 companies in the region.

To examine the diverse innovation activities within metro Atlanta's large and complex regional economy, the Chamber worked with more than 20 regional partners to evaluate 13 indicators of innovation for the first-ever Metro Atlanta Innovation Indicators Project. The first comprehensive evaluation of innovation data for the 29-county region, the project was commissioned to monitor regional trends, benchmark activity against other leading innovation regions and communicate results about the region’s competitiveness. The Chamber also worked with partners to launch the Metro Atlanta eXchange for Workforce Solutions to promote information sharing among workforce development stakeholders and improve the region’s economic competitiveness and growth. 

With a population of nearly six million people, Atlanta leaders are keenly aware of the traffic issues that have dogged the region for years. “We are committed to being an active voice for the business community by tackling critical quality of life issues like traffic. As outlined in the HNTB/Ernst and Young report we commissioned -- ‘Economic Benefits of Investing in Transportation’ -- to simply preserve the system we have, we should be investing an additional $1 - $1.5 billion annually,” said Moddelmog. 

During the recent legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly approved over $900 million in new funding for transportation infrastructure. This new annual funding, generated through an excise tax and a variety of other user fees, will provide revenue for the maintenance and modernization of the region’s transportation networks. Commending legislators for creating a reliable funding stream to start addressing critical infrastructure needs, Moddlemog said, “We appreciate the diligence of the legislature and executive branch in this effort. This is a huge win for metro Atlanta and Georgia businesses.” 

Building on the momentum created in 2014, MAC along with its partners is launching a regional marketing campaign. The promotional effort serves multi-fold purposes: attract not only companies, such as Mercedes and Comcast, but also draw the talent required to fill their prospective jobs, as well as venture capitalists, sports promoters, home buyers and other investors. Developed with the advertising agency BBDO, the campaign will launch in late May, and be supported by digital and print ads and a dynamic web hub.

When asked what lies ahead for the region, Moddelmog responded, “we are seeing more companies expand their focus on innovation and trade as they work to create new products and services, grow their businesses and reach larger audiences.”

AT&T Foundry, AT&T Drive Studio, Panasonic and The Home Depot have opened Innovation Centers at Georgia Tech to take advantage of the research assets and talent at the university. For its part, MAC has partnered with NineSigma to launch the Metro Atlanta Open Innovation Forum, an online marketplace to help large and mid-sized companies define and solve their innovation needs. 

Additionally, in partnership with Invest Atlanta and Mayor Kasim Reed’s office, in 2014, the Chamber developed the Atlanta Metropolitan Export Plan (MEP), a strategic initiative focused on helping local companies export to boost economic growth in the region and create quality jobs. The MEP will be implemented in 2015 and provide a tool kit for small and mid-sized businesses to help them grow through exporting. Data show that metro Atlanta’s Export Intensity (exports as a percentage of overall economy) is 9.5 percent, lagging the average of 11.95 percent for its peers in the top 100 metros.

When asked about the benefits of being a Chamber member, Moddelmog said “Our investors are being good corporate citizens, supporting economic development efforts, helping to grow jobs and creating a better quality of place to ensure the economic vitality of the region.” Small start-ups further benefit by being able to have direct connections with FORTUNE 1000 companies, gaining unmatched access to potential customers. 

Moddelmog speaks highly of her leadership team: Brian McGowan, EVP and COO; Katie Kirkpatrick, Chief Policy Officer; Bari Love, SVP, Marketing and Communications; Janice Rys, SVP Investor Relations; and, Dan Corso, SVP, Atlanta Sports Council. 

Bottom line, Ms. Moddelmog emphasized that these team members and their staffs care deeply about the region becoming a prosperous and vibrant community for both large and small businesses, as well as for all the area residents. “If we do the right things well, we will make a positive impact on the region. We want to touch as many people as we can to bring prosperity, vibrancy and growth.”



About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.