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Pedestrians enter the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Friday, April 24, 2009 in Atlanta.
AP Photo/Gregory Smith

Georgia banks were having a rough time, even five years after the recession. Hundreds locked their doors and never reopened as customers defaulted on their loans.

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But in 2016, FDIC-insured banks in Georgia made $3 billion dollars in profit, a nearly 5 percent increase from 2015.

Coca-Cola CEO, Muhtar Kent
Courtesy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is the first Fortune 500 Atlanta company to come out against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

Tech companies like Google and Microsoft responded loudly against the executive order this weekend.

But many of Atlanta's largest publicly-traded companies aren't talking about it.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said he doesn't support President Trump's executive order and is working to help employees who may be affected.

The Port of Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to an arc of inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, to St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley. Key to expanding rail service is a $128M project linking Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards.
Courtesy of Stephen B. Morton/Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority says one of its top priorities this year is building what it calls the "Mid-American Arc."

It's a $128 million project that would connect the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail yards leaving the Port of Savannah.

The arc project will double rail capacity in Savannah and improve its link to Atlanta and cities in the Midwest.

Emory student Naman Gupta using the Yik Yak app on Emory University's campus in Atlanta. Students protested hate speech on the app and called on the University to block the app on its campus.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Atlanta-based technology start-up Yik Yak laid off more than half of its staff last week.

The social media mobile app was big on college campuses when it launched in 2013, but recently it’s seen slow growth and faced backlash from users protesting hate speech and bullying.

Yik Yak, which is like an anonymous version of Twitter, is used on more than 2,000 college campuses.

At a Chevron gas station in Midtown Atlanta, gas prices were $2.69 on Thursday, a few days after the Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline explosion.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

It will take a little longer than first predicted for repairs to be finished on the gasoline pipeline that supplies the Atlanta area.

In an update on its website, Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline Company said it now expects repairs to be completed Sunday afternoon. The pipeline has been shut down since an explosion in Alabama earlier this week, in which one worker was killed and four were injured.

But most drivers in metro Atlanta are not racing to gas stations to fill up their tanks just yet.

Commentary: Perceptions About Downtowns Are Changing

Sep 14, 2016
Maria Saporta

More than 700 people from around the country descended on Atlanta from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9 to attend the International Development Association meeting at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The event harkened back to 1977 – the last time the IDA came to Atlanta. At the time, Dan Sweat, who was heading Central Atlanta Progress, hosted the organization.

Downtowns have changed dramatically in the four decades since the last time the International Downtown Association met in Atlanta.

Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Sales for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company fell during the second quarter of this year. The soft drink giant announced Wednesday it made $11.5 billion for the quarter, compared with $12.2 billion during the second quarter of last year. Coke says total revenue fell about 5 percent.  

Kohl's is closing three Atlanta area locations in June and November. One is an anchor tenant at Northlake Mall in North Dekalb County. The new owner of Northlake Mall says it hopes to better match tenants and amenities with the demographics of the area.
Mike Kalasnik (cropped) creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode / flickr.com/photos/10542402@N06/

The department store Kohl's announced it is closing stores in three Atlanta area locations this year: in Roswell, Lithonia and Dekalb County.

The Dekalb County Kohl's is an anchor tenant for the struggling Northlake Mall.

Some developers say the success of future malls is now less about anchor tenants and more about customer experience.

Seth Wenig / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two Atlanta convenience store owners have pleaded guilty to illegally exchanging food stamps for millions of dollars.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia said Samuel Kwushue is guilty of paying customers at his KD Metro Tropical Market convenience store in southwest Atlanta 60 cents on the dollar for their food stamps.

Mike Stewart / Associated Press

  

What does Atlanta want to look like when it grows up? That's a question city planners are faced with.

They’ve launched the “Atlanta City Design Project,” which aims to be pro-active about how we handle future growth and development. For decades, we’ve been reacting to proposals from developers and market forces rather than setting our own course.

Atlanta planning commissioner Tim Keane recently hired Ryan Gravel -- the visionary who brought us the Atlanta BeltLine -- to manage the Atlanta Design Project.

Dustin Farist uses his smartphone to pay for a shave at Gino's Classic Barber Shoppe in Atlanta.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Every time you swipe, tap or insert your card and even pay with your phone, there's a good chance the transaction will be processed here in Georgia.

That's because nearly 70 percent of all payment card transactions are processed here, and more than half of U.S. financial technology firms are based in the Atlanta area.

Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia, said you can expect to see more financial tech companies setting up shop in the Atlanta area in 2016.

Citizens Trust has been a fixture on Auburn Avenue for decades, but it will soon call Peachtree Street home.

The bank was known for lending money to African-Americans who couldn’t borrow money from white-owned banks. 

And in the 1960s Auburn Avenue was called "the richest Negro street in the world."

That was when successful Atlanta builder Herman Russell became the bank’s largest shareholder and built a headquarters building at 75 Piedmont, giving the bank a piece of the skyline.

Commentary: Arts Funding For All Vital To Atlanta

Dec 14, 2015
Nervous System

The Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund held its annual meeting in December, when it gave away $1 million in grants to 12 arts groups.

The fund has been instrumental in stabilizing Atlanta's small- and mid-sized arts organizations.

Twenty-two years ago, the Atlanta Arts community was split between the haves and the have-nots.  There was the Woodruff Arts Center and then … everyone else.

To balance the scales the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund was launched in 1993, and to date, it has given out more than $11 million to promote the arts at all levels.

Children play in the fountain in Centennial Olympic Park on Friday, July 14, 2006, in Atlanta. Almost 10 years after the 1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta's children still flock to the fountains on hot summer days.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has awarded $10 million towards the rejuvenation of Centennial Olympic Park. A $25 million fundraising campaign to improve the park will launch in January, 2016 ─ all in an effort to mark the 20th anniversary of Atlanta's hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. 

It's hard to believe that 20 years ago, Centennial Olympic Park replaced acres and acres of parking lots and vacant industrial buildings.

The park, the most significant legacy from the Olympics, has become a new front door for Atlanta.

Group photo of participants
Alison Guillory / WABE

For a number of U.S. immigrants, the “American Dream” includes starting a business one day. That's true for many in Latin American communities, and increasingly women are starting those businesses.

States like California, Texas and Florida all have strong markets for business-minded Latinas. But no state has seen more growth in its number of Latina-owned firms than Georgia, according to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Survey.

OnBoard has just completed its 2015 study with some surprising results. And the business climate in Georgia is looking favorable for women executives.

OnBoard is an organization that has been keeping track of the progress of women on corporate boards and in executive positions in Georgia for 23 years.

In 1993, women held only 4 percent of the seats on the boards of Georgia's public companies. By 2015, it is more than 12 percent, a record.

Manu Fernandez / Associated Press

Mobility Live! recently held its third annual conference in Atlanta.

And our city has another claim to fame. It’s a hub of mobile communications, one of the fastest growing technology sectors.

Atlanta has become such an important mobility hub that the international association for mobile companies has located its North American headquarters here.

The driver behind the city's mobility profile is AT&T Mobility, which is headquartered here. Top company executives are believers in Atlanta.

Courtesy of Office of Gov. Deal

So many players. So many agendas. So much history.

That sums up Atlanta's Westside, the impoverished communities located across Northside Drive from the new Mercedes-Benz stadium and the Georgia Dome.

All eyes are on West Atlanta as the Westside Future Fund begins fundraising and coordinating efforts to revamp the area.

The fund is a private entity, established by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in December 2014.  It is chaired by Richard Dugas, CEO of Pulte Homes.

MARTA Commuter Rail Possible For Clayton County

Jul 29, 2015
MARTA North Avenue station in Atlanta
Scott Ehardt / Wikipedia

MARTA buses have been rolling in Clayton County since March, but what the county really wants is commuter rail.

The good news is that MARTA is working on it.

Ga. Hoping General Electric Will Call State Its Home

Jun 17, 2015
General Electric sign on GE Administration Building is seen at night in Schenectady, New York.
Chuck Miller / www.flickr.com/Chuck Miller

General Electric Co. has set up a committee to explore moving its corporate headquarters out of Connecticut, following the legislature's decision to increase taxes on the state's major businesses.  Georgia leaders quickly expressed interesting in having GE relocate to the Peach State – to join the growing number Fortune 500 companies calling Georgia their home each year.

This April 23, 2015 photo shows a horse-drawn carriage moving through the historic district in Charleston, S.C.
Bruce Smith / Associated Press

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced May 28 that he has selected Tim Keane of Charleston, South Carolina, as his new commissioner of planning and community development. The city has been without a permanent commissioner since last September, when James Shelby abruptly resigned. Atlanta has an opportunity with the selection of Keane, who still must be approved by the City Council.

Few American cities are as endearing as Charleston, South Carolina.

Gov. Nathan Deal recently tweeted a headline that read “Georgia sees fastest growth in number of women-owned firms since 1997.”

That may be true, but it’s not the whole picture.

In 1997, around 145,000 Georgia businesses were owned by women. Today? That number is up 132 percent. That rate of growth landed Georgia a No. 1 spot in the latest American Express funded report on women-owned businesses.

Atlanta in particular has driven that tremendous growth for the state. But don’t break out the party hats just yet.

Fortune 500 Has No Female CEO From Georgia – Yet

May 21, 2015
Mary A. Laschinger, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
veritivcorp.com

Few people have even heard of the company Veritiv. But by next year, it will become one of Atlanta’s best-known companies. That’s because it will have the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company based in Georgia.

When the company eventually is included on the Fortune 500 list in 2016, it likely will be ranked near No. 300 – thanks to its sales of about $9.3 billion a year.

Veritiv formed last July through a merger of Unisource and a division of International Paper – xpedx.  The company held its first annual meeting this Wednesday. 

Left to right: Chris Hart, David Hartnett, Allyson Eman, Tino Mantella, Cory Hewett, Evan Jarecki, and Amanda Hendley; winners of the 2015 TAG Business Launch tech start up competition.
Courtesy of Tech Association of Georgia

The Technology Association of Georgia, or TAG, sponsored a recent business tech start-up competition to help connect investors with new enterprises.

TAG is a leading technology industry association. The group’s president and CEO, Tino Mantella, says TAG is the “largest tech trade association in the nation.”

TAG is “dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of the state’s technology industry,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

Crane Creek Vineyards

Georgia’s wine business is booming, creating jobs and millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue.

It’s quite an accomplishment when you consider there were just a handful of vineyards in the state in 1995. But with steady growth over the past two decades, Georgia now boasts more than 40.

Grape grower and winemaker Eric Seifarth is the president of Crane Creek Vineyards, which is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia.

Seifarth is also a member of the Winegrowers Association of Georgia.

Numerous ship to shore cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal.
Stephen B. Morton / AP Photo, File

President Barack Obama visited the headquarters of Nike in Oregon last week to raise support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as the TPP.

The TPP is a trade agreement that is under negotiation by twelve countries, including the United States, Japan and Mexico, and it could affect up to 40 percent of U.S trade.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill this week that would grant the president the right to speed up the negotiating process. But both parties are split on the TPP and a lot of politicking still needs to play out.

Georgia Sen. Josh McKoon, left, who is sponsoring the "religious freedom" bill, talks to Sen. Mike Crane, right, in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol on the final day of the 2015 legislative session April 2, 2015, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

A local franchise of AlphaGraphics in Suwanee refused to print wedding invitations for­ a same-sex couple looking to get married this summer.

Executives at AlphaGraphics' national headquarters quickly apologized and offered to print them for free.

The owner of the store didn’t really break any rules, according to Tanya Washington, a law professor at Georgia State.

“The printer has the legal right to adhere to his religious beliefs,” Washington says. 

GM’s Old Doraville Assembly Plant Ready For Retooling

Apr 8, 2015
GM plant in Doraville, Ga.
Gene Blythe / Associated Press file

The sleek new Oldsmobile, with its shiny black body, glinting chrome bumpers and fixtures, and stark whitewall tires rolled off the assembly line at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Doraville, Georgia.

The year was 1947 and the Oldsmobile was the first automobile built at the plant.

Dan Raby / WABE

On the surface, legislation aimed at fighting child sex trafficking in Georgia sounds like a great idea … unless you’re part of the adult entertainment industry that would be levied a penalty fee of $5,000 or 1 percent of gross earnings.

David Goldman / Associated Press

About two years ago, the city placed a ban on all street vending while it tried to develop a new vending system.

But parts of the city were off-limits: like the Five Points MARTA station and Turner Field. Now, Mayor Kasim Reed says he’s open to lifting the ban on Turner Field.

Last week, City Council members passed a resolution that would allow for 10 street vendors near Turner Field. Mayor Reed says council members were asking him to reconsider his position on street vending.

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