Walter C. Jones for GlobalAtlanta
Publisher Phil Bolton, president of Agio Press Inc., was singled out for praise for his contributions to Georgia’s international community as winner of the Governor’s International Award during a black-tie gala Oct. 14.
Mr. Bolton was among three other recipients, including Muslim bank Arcapita Bank B.S.C. in the international-investment category and DBS Manufacturing Inc. in the international trade arena. Kennesaw State University’s International Professional Training Programs were recognized in the area of international education.
“It’s a real pleasure and an honor for me personally to present this,” said Craig Lesser, commissioner of economic development, as he announced Mr. Bolton as the winner of the individual contribution award.
Agio Press publishes the GlobalAtlanta electronic newsletter; GlobalFax, a fax newsletter and GlobalFlash announcements of visiting trade missions and international events. Its calendar and archive of articles may be found at www.globalatlanta.com.
Mr. Lesser was pinch-hitting for Gov. Sonny Perdue who missed the dinner because of campaign activities. However, Mr. Bolton noted the importance of governors’ personal participation on trade missions in stimulating international business for a state.
“In an age when many members of Congress still have no use for a passport,” Mr. Bolton said, “… please pass along our encouragement to the governor for the trips that he does.”
Mr. Bolton does extensive travel himself and said he had just returned from Hogansville in Troup County, the site of the new Kia Motors Inc. plant under construction.
“It’s amazing to see the impact of what an investment of $1 billion has in a county,” he said.
Mr. Bolton’s impact on Georgia has also been impressive, according to the judges for the award. He was the top choice of all six, according to Lori Clos-Fisher, senior vice president of Bank of America Corp. and coordinator of judging for the awards. They noted not only the impact of his publications but also the personal time he has given over the years to so many causes, from the Atlanta and Decatur sister city initiatives to the Korea Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Georgia Council for International Visitors that nominated him for the award.
Dr. C.G. Alexandrides, professor emeritus at Georgia State University, was also struck by Mr. Bolton’s personal activity.
“I do work in Malaysia, and there he was,” Dr. Alexandrides said.
Mr. Bolton’s most widely felt contributions are as a publisher of a newsletter, GlobalAtlanta, with a circulation of nearly 11,000 as well as emailed updates, events calendars and video interviews.
“Those of us in academia who are usually a little ahead of what’s going on wouldn’t be able to do anything without him,” Dr. Alexandrides said, adding that other Atlanta media offer only a fraction of the reporting on the state’s international business that Agio provides. “… It’s been GlobalFax that has carried the media for a number of years.”
David Clyde agrees. Dr. Clyde, president of Spinnaker Medical Consultants International LLC and chair of the programs committee at the World Trade Center, credits Mr. Bolton’s publications with reports of new businesses in the area that have developed into leads for potential sales as well as program topics for the varied interests of trade center members.
“I’m impressed with what he’s done in putting together a very useful communication,” Dr. Clyde said. “There is so much going on.”
There didn’t seem to be enough going on in 1991 when Mr. Bolton started his company, nor enough of an audience to make it worthwhile.
“It wasn’t really clear that Atlanta was going to be a global center,” he said recently.
Named for a premium in currency exchange, Agio Press started with a single newsletter that was mailed to subscribers. Unfortunately, the information was often dated by the time it arrived, Mr. Bolton said.
He latched onto technology as the solution, beginning a tradition of being on the cutting edge of journalism ever since. At the time, that meant using the fax machine to deliver the news.
Today, Agio still uses the fax for GlobalFax, but it also publishes by email and via the Internet as well. Plus, it even produces books and videos, taking in the breadth of media.
Mr. Bolton’s own background propelled him into Agio Press. He grew up the son of a military intelligence officer stationed in France after World War II, and French was his first language. He inherited both curiosity and a cosmopolitan outlook.
Journalism sent Mr. Bolton back to France as a foreign correspondent. He first learned the ropes in Macon at the Macon Telegraph, where he jokes that as a Yankee, he felt like he was still a foreign correspondent observing the cultural differences in his own country.
He came to Atlanta where he covered banks for the Irish-owned Southern Banker Magazine and was exposed to publishing entrepreneurship, finally leading him to start the Agio Press, through which he has developed personal and professional connections throughout the city.
Indeed, connections are the heart of Agio’s success.
He calls his approach to journalism “relationship reporting” because he doesn’t adopt the distant attitude of a typical reporter. Early on, for example, he put phone numbers and addresses at the bottoms of his stories so that readers could contact the newsmakers — allowing readers to make active use of the material Agio Press published rather than simply scanning and forgetting it as in traditional newspapers.
“We were an important vehicle in introducing people to one another,” he recalls.
So, besides winning recognition from the governor, how does Mr. Bolton gauge his success today?
“If we’re doing our jobs, we are talking with people who have had extraordinary adventures,” he said, plus, it’s fun.