Atlanta’s business community must take a leadership role in encouraging the city’s development as a transportation, technology and financial hub to out-compete Houston and Miami in doing business with Latin America, according to Jagdish Sheth, marketing professor at Emory University, who spoke about Atlanta’s economic competitiveness at a breakfast at Emory’s Goizueta Business School last week.

          Dr. Sheth characterized Atlanta, Houston and Miami as “new global hub cities” that are “racing to focus on Latin America” and said that Atlanta’s business community should specialize in transport, technology and finance and integrate those industries to differentiate Atlanta from Houston and Miami.

“We must outdistance them in infrastructure for more cargo traffic using air freight, since we do not have the advantage of a seaport.”

          He said the business community must also push to “wire Atlanta as the information capital” of the country, especially since the transportation and cargo industry is technology-based.

          The city should aim to shift the South’s financial capital from Charlotte, N.C., to here, he continued, and even make highway Ga. 316 between Atlanta and Athens a “high tech corridor” like highways in Silicon Valley.

          Atlanta needs to more proactively invite delegations from Latin America, and Atlanta’s tourist industry should become more “learning-based,” with visitors coming here for education and skills training, he noted.

          Dr. Sheth said Atlanta’s top-notch universities, such as Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory that focus on research and development and produce a high-tech labor pool, provide an advantage over Houston and Miami. But he felt that the city should do a better job of promoting its schools as “world-class institutions.”

          Atlanta should also gain more global media exposure, using CNN to promote the city’s business potential with Latin America, and make sure Atlanta’s foreign consulates are as strong as those in Miami or Washington.

          The meeting was also sponsored by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

          Contact Dr. Sheth at (404) 727-7603 or Goizueta at (404) 727-6270.