Ireland’s decision to put its newest U.S. consulate here shows that Atlanta is becoming a global business center, but there is much work left to do before the city can fully claim that status, Mayor Shirley Franklin said June 9.
“The consulate’s selection of Atlanta suggests that we’re pointed in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean we’ve gotten done everything we need to do,” Ms. Franklin said during a speech at the Ireland Chamber of Commerce of the USA’s monthly luncheon.
As the city grows, Atlanta must look to formulate policies that foster environmentally conscious development as far as 50 years into the future. Atlanta has more “green” buildings than most major U.S. cities, but the city’s policies on environmental building are lagging, she said.
“We still don’t have the kinds of policies on the books that I’ve heard in Ireland, that you have to have an energy rating on a home when you buy it and when you sell it so that the new homeowner knows exactly what the expense is and also what damage they might do to the environment,” Ms. Franklin said.
Atlanta should also follow Ireland’s example by continuing to invest in public education, ensuring that the city’s workforce can compete in the future, Ms. Franklin said.
She mentioned the fact that NCR Corp. cited an educated workforce as one of the reasons for moving its headquarters from Dayton, Ohio, to Atlanta and some operations to other Georgia cities. See GlobalAtlanta’s NCR coverage.
As announced June 2, the Fortune 500 company will eventually create more than 3,000 jobs in the state, partly because Georgia has an ample talent base.
“The single best way to attract educated people to your community is good schools,” Ms. Franklin said.
In her opening remarks, she commended the chamber and its members for their role in attracting the Irish consulate.
“It wouldn’t have happened without the private sector,” she said.
She also emphasized the role of global connections in the city’s development. She announced that the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission would receive an award at a Sister Cities International conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on July 31. Read more about the award and Atlanta’s sister cities.
Atlanta has 18 sister cities and three friendship cities, she said.
The mayor pointed out that during her first four years in office, she only traveled internationally once, and that was for vacation.
She said her predecessor’s supposed globetrotting was frowned upon by Atlanta citizens. But the world is changing, and it’s ignorant to believe cities can compete without learning from other cities around the globe, she said.
“You cannot be the CEO or mayor of a major city today and not travel internationally. You’ve got your head in the sand, because as this world changes, people expect there to be a mutual exchange, not just they come here, but that we go there and share cultural experiences,” Ms. Franklin said.
It’s also valuable for officials to listen to the international community in their own city, she added. She commended chamber and the Irish community for their work in boosting global consciousness in Atlanta.