George Berry, a former state commissioner and former aviation commissioner for the city of Atlanta, told the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta last week that Dobbins Air Reserve Base would be the most likely site for a second major commercial airport in the metro Atlanta area.
Predicting that the Dobbins base would likely be included among the two or three U.S. Air Force bases in Georgia closed by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission next year, he indicated it would make a suitable site for a new airport should a second major one be developed.
Mr. Berry was the luncheon speaker at the club’s weekly meeting downtown during which he received its 2004 International Award. He predicted that the Dobbins base, located 16 miles northeast of Atlanta in Marietta, eventually would be chosen as the new site in response to a question from a member of the club.
During his luncheon speech he provided an overview of his career in the administrations of four Atlanta mayors and as the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, which has been renamed the Department of Economic Development, in the administration of Gov. Joe Frank Harris.
His prime motivation throughout his career, he said, was to see the earning capacity of Georgia workers equal those of workers elsewhere in the country.
He said that when he entered the workforce the average annual salary of a Georgia worker was 55 percent of the national average. He also said that he has seen Georgia catching up and that the next generation to enter the workforce finally would reach the national average. “Slowly but surely we are closing in,” he said.
Citing an estimated 100,000 jobs provided by foreign companies in the state, Mr. Berry said foreign investment has played a critical role in Georgia’s economic growth and he credited Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as playing an important role in attracting them to the state.
“It didn’t take a genius to figure out that railroads had been responsible for Atlanta’s growth for 100 years and that airlines would be responsible for the growth in the future,” he added.
He credited President Carter’s support for deregulation of the airlines enabling them to expand their routes as they wanted and to develop a hub-and-spoke system as an impetus for establishing international routes.
And he recalled inaugural flights to Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Brussels; Frankfurt, Germany; London and Mexico City, which prompted greater awareness of Atlanta and the South and eventually brought in foreign investment.
Other recipients of the club’s international award in the past include Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, founder of Atlanta Ministry with International Students Inc., an international student organization; Peter Bell, president of Care;
Rose Cunningham, former honorary consul of Costa Rica; Billy Payne, former president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games; Roy Plaut and his wife, Olga Gomez, founders of the Atlanta International School;
John Portman, founder of the global architecture and engineering firm John Portman & Associates Inc.; the late Robert Shaw, former music director and conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra;
Peter White, president of the Southern Center for International Studies and his wife, Julia, the center’s vice president and director of educational programs and publications.
To learn more about Kiwanis Club of Atlanta activities, call Nancy Williams, executive secretary, at (404) 521-1443.