For the first time, the Metro Atlanta Chamber hosted its 161st annual meeting virtually, honoring its efforts to drive the region’s reputation as a global competitor. The Chamber’s board chair, Invesco President and CEO Marty Flanagan recapped the year and highlighted the region’s strong position for the future. The organization also announced three key focus areas for 2021: racial equity, public health, and economic recovery.

In addition, Raphael W. Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, was announced as MAC’s 2022 chair-elect, succeeding its 2021 chair-elect, Delta Air Lines’ CEO Ed Bastian. Meeting attendees also heard from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Head of Google for Startups US Jewel Burks Solomon, Atlanta Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, along with a host of prominent business leaders across the region.

“(The year) 2020 started off with strong momentum and became a year that challenged us unlike any other,” Flanagan said. “As we faced a global pandemic, a down economy, and the noble fight to end systemic racism, our business community rose to the occasion. And we are excited about the future as we continue our focus on racial equity, public health, and economic recovery – the priorities that will position our region for the future.”

Bastian shared his thoughts on the upcoming year.

“I’m honored to be serving the Metro Atlanta Chamber as its 2021 board chair, as the organization embarks on its mission to drive racial equity, public health, and economic recovery,” said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, the incoming board chair. “Our journey will be a challenging one, but the businesses and the people of metro Atlanta have shown that our resilience, our shared values, and our determination have never been stronger.”

Bostic shared similar sentiments while also thanking the chamber for his appointment.

“The Metro Atlanta Chamber has a significant role to play in what’s to come, both in our region and on a national scale,” Bostic said. “MAC is uniquely positioned to activate, accelerate, and impact growth and change for the better. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve this business community and improve the livelihoods for everyone in the region as the 2022 chair.”

MAC will continue its long-standing efforts across economic development, public policy, and promoting metro Atlanta’s brand through major sporting events and strategic marketing. Under the leadership of recently appointed president and CEO, Katie Kirkpatrick, MAC will also double-down on the following areas in its strategic plan for 2021:

  • Racial Equity: In 2020, metro Atlanta’s business community came together to drive passage of the historic Hate Crimes bill and Second Chances legislation. MAC has since set out to drive collective impact to address our region’s racial equity challenges across four key areas: corporate policies, inclusive economic development, workforce, and education. The organization is defining problem statements, impacts, and the host of regional NGOs that are critical to the business community’s success in this area. MAC expects to fully launch this effort in 2021.
  • Public Health: Earlier this year and in partnership with the CDC Foundation, MAC mobilized resources to launch the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center in response to the current health crisis and in an effort to position metro Atlanta as a center for global health. In 2020, MAC also supported efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with campaigns like “Get Georgia Well,” the Georgia Safety Promise, and Bank of America’s Million Mask Challenge. In 2021, MAC will continue to work across the business community to address public health concerns.
  • Economic Recovery: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MAC launched RESTORE, an ambitious initiative in partnership with more than 50 business leaders to spur job creation and economic recovery across Georgia through public policy. In addition, MAC partnered with the CareSource Foundation to create the RESTORE ATL Fund to support Black-owned small and medium-sized businesses that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. To date, more than $180,000 in grants have been awarded. Today, MAC is announcing another round of grants totaling over $150,000 to be awarded in 2021. Metro Atlanta’s economy continues to rebound better than the national average, and MAC will continue efforts to spur economic growth through job creation, advocacy and promotion.

“Activate. Accelerate. Impact. — that’s what we do in metro Atlanta,” said Kirkpatrick. “We nurture and welcome global leaders who disrupt the status quo and change the world. We work to build a more inclusive and equitable community for all. From Fortune 1000s and startups to civic engagement, film, arts, hip hop and sports, we are careers, community and culture. This spirit is alive in our region even in the midst of a pandemic and it will propel us into the future.”

The Metro Atlanta Chamber hosted its annual meeting this week, where it announced its 2021 and 2022 leadership, as well as its policy focuses for the upcoming year. (Courtesy / Metro Atlanta Chamber)

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