People from all over the state of Georgia, from all walks of life and political backgrounds spent six years preparing to host teams from 197 nations, 10,000 athletes and over 2 million visitors. In the largest event of the city’s history Atlantans seized a unique opportunity to promote their history, their Southern hospitality and their business climate. Atlantans utilized the Games to galvanize community and business support for enhancing the city’s economic development, improving its infrastructure and boosting its quality of life.
Leading up to the Games, throughout the preparation period and during the Games Atlanta promoted itself as an emerging international city with business and civic leaders taking every media opportunity to enhance the city’s image. This kind of coordinated message was significant for the city’s prospects of ensuring that the Games were successful as well as post Game private investment and economic development.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Program (EEOP) was developed for the Olympics by consultants Dave Miller and Clara Axam at the request of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games Board of Directors in 1991. It was one of the earliest policies adopted by the Committee and was the outgrowth of the commitment of the business community and the political leadership, most notably Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Billy Payne and Bob Holder who advocated for full participation of women and minority employment and business enterprise throughout the bid process and in executing the ACOG plans.
ACOG’s Deputy General Counsel Marva Brooke, EEO Program Director Gary Walker and myself as Vice President of External Relations led the development of the EEOP to encourage full participation of small, minority and women owned businesses in virtually every aspect of ACOG’s work from design to execution.
Much of this participation occurred on the construction of the facilities achieving record levels of private sector work of the Committee and in Olympic Committee history to that date. Additionally ACOG created a successful construction-training program, a sports broadcasting college training program and incorporated area artists and arts organizations in a variety of special events. While the EEOP report provides some information about these programs ACOG’s final report to the International Olympic Committee provides a full description of ACOG’s programs and the Centennial Olympic Games.
When asked in 2011 to accept the United States State Department invitation to address members of the Brazilian government and other interested parties in Bahia and Rio on the participation of women and minority business, the EEOP was a reference for the article published (see attached). Similar presentations have also been made to meetings hosted by the International Trade Forum as part of their Women’s Empowerment programs in New York, Geneva and Mexico City
With over 30 years in Atlanta’s programs that promote inclusion of diverse employees and business enterprises, my experience provides insight into the success that governments and civic leaders can find in expanding economic opportunities to diverse populations.