Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services, Brenda Sprague; Under Secretary of State for Management, Patrick Kennedy; Mayor Kasim Reed; Jacqueline Harley-Bell, regional director of south central operations and Gale McCoy, director of the Atlanta agency.

With the opening of a passport agency in Atlanta, residents no longer have to travel to New Orleans or Miami to get a passport in a hurry.

On May 16, national and local officials, including Mayor Kasim Reed and Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, attended a ribbon-cutting to mark the official opening of Atlanta’s passport agency.

The facility, which began offering services on May 2, issues passports on site for people who need to travel within 14 days or have an emergency.

Funded by the economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the facility is one of four new passport agencies. New offices also opened in El Paso, Texas; San Diego, Calif., and St. Albans, Vt.

El Paso and San Diego sit next to the border with Mexico, and St. Albans is about 15 miles south of Canada. Atlanta was the only pick not near a border.

The city was still a clear choice for the agency with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a large population and the lack of a nearby agency, Mr. Kennedy told GlobalAtlanta after the ceremony.

He added that the number of people filing for passports has risen over the years. According to the State Department, from 1996 to 2010 the number of passports issued per year jumped from 5.5 million to nearly 14 million.

Since 2009 the demand has continued to increase with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. In an attempt to enhance national security, the law requires people to show a valid passport or other documentation when traveling from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.

Speaking to the audience of politicians, consulate representatives and businesspeople, Mr. Kennedy noted that passport services are “essential components of national security.”

Mr. Reed also spoke during the ceremony and noted that the agency has provided exceptional service in its first two weeks of operations. “You’re doing it well. You’re doing it efficiently,” he said.

Located at 230 Peachtree St., the agency has 49 employees and has received about 100 applications so far for passports or passport cards.

Using a scanner, the applicant’s information is stored into a computer and can then be accessed at consulates around the world, preventing fraud and helping U.S. citizens if they lose their identification while traveling.

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