Metro Atlanta Chamber

History

Call Us: (404) 880-9000

Our History

For 160 years, the Metro Atlanta Chamber has been the voice of our region’s business community, working to improve and drive our reputation as a global competitor. Our roots run parallel with the region’s: we started as an organization fighting railroad freight discrimination, just as Atlanta was built on the foundation of the railroad industry.

The Chamber has been at the forefront of metro Atlanta’s evolution through industrial transformation, social change and global recognition. Water systems, public schools, interstate highways, air transport, higher education and transit: we’ve led the way for growth across each of these areas and many more. We’re also proud to be a champion for equality during the Civil Rights Movement and today as we embrace people from all walks of life.

Of course, we haven’t done any of this alone. From day one, the Chamber has had the ability to convene the region’s top leaders and organizations. Whether a Fortune 500 CEO, an elected official or a bootstrapped entrepreneur, there’s a place for every voice here. And we’re honored that you’ve chosen to engage with us and stay connected decade after decade.

From our beginnings tied to the railroad to today’s high-tech focus on innovation, the Metro Atlanta Chamber represents 29 counties and roughly six million citizens with one ambition: Never Stop Rising.™​

Celebrating Our 160th Anniversary

1859: The Metro Atlanta Chamber was founded as the “Mercantile Association,” with the intent to fight railroad freight discrimination against the City of Atlanta.

1871: The organization of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce was effected on August 7, 1871. The Chamber starts a movement for municipal reforms and construction of a public water system.

1895: The Chamber helped promote the New South on an international stage after lobbying Congress to award Atlanta the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition.

1900: A lack of paved roads and underequipped public schools led the Chamber to secure a $3M bond from the city that funded improvements in water and sewage systems, Grady Hospital and public schools.

1920: The Chamber was heavily involved in the development of Atlanta’s air transport industry. In partnership with the City Council, the Chamber encouraged the city to purchase Candler Field in the 1920s. This move made Atlanta the third city in the country – after New York and Chicago – to offer regular daily flights.

1925: The Chamber launched its first advertising campaign, called Forward Atlanta, led by Ivan Allen Sr., president of the Chamber, which attracted more than 750 companies to Atlanta, bringing over $30M and tens of thousands of jobs to the area.

1930: The Chamber aided in the expansion of Atlanta that included a $40M project to create an interstate highway system. The “Keep Atlanta Ahead” campaign, as it was known, also led to changes in education, fire prevention, public health, urban housing and global trade. During this time, more than 90 new industries came to the city.

1941: The Chamber helped to recruit major airlines to Atlanta, including becoming the home of Delta Air Lines in 1941.

1952: The Chamber was integral to an 81-square-mile expansion of city limits. As a result, the Chamber helped expand access to higher education through efforts to fund expansion in universities such as Georgia Tech and Emory University.

1960: The Chamber issued a resolution to the Georgia General Assembly supporting legislation that would end school segregation. Under the leadership of Ivan Allen Jr. – Chamber president and later mayor of Atlanta – the Chamber called for businesses to peacefully comply with the Civil Rights legislation. The 1960s also included the Chamber’s involvement in the passage of a regional rapid transit amendment that set the stage for the creation of a five-county authority evolving into today’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).

1961: The Chamber founded the magazine “City Builder” in 1916, which ran until 1960. The magazine changed hands several times over the next two decades, and today, it is known as the Atlanta Magazine.

1970: The Chamber led efforts to attract foreign business, expand international airport routes and recruit industries in technology, manufacturing and research, adding more than 25,000 jobs annually. To attract more minority business to the state, the Chamber helped launch the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council.

1980: The Chamber helped advance efforts to make Atlanta the “sports capital of the world” by establishing the Atlanta Sports Council.

1988: When Atlanta hosted the Democratic National Convention, the Chamber partnered with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade to maximize the region’s visibility.

1990: Now known as the “Metro Atlanta Chamber,” the organization played an important role in a pivotal time of growth and recruitment of companies in Atlanta, including Fortune 500 headquarters such as Georgia-Pacific, General Electric, Newell Rubbermaid and UPS.

1996: The Chamber helped raise funds to construct Centennial Olympic Park, and the Atlanta Sports Council was a leader in preparing the city to host the 1996 Olympic Games.

2001: The Chamber led efforts to have the Confederate symbol removed from the Georgia state flag.

2008: Helping to rally the business community, the Chamber led the Grady Hospital Task Force that saved our region’s only certified Level 1 Trauma Center.

2014: The Atlanta Science Festival was founded in 2014 by Emory University, Georgia Tech and the Chamber. The Festival is now engineered by Science ATL, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people together through the wonder of science.

2015: The Chamber provided leadership for $1B in additional annual funding for Georgia transportation, the first state increase since 1971. In addition, the Chamber launched ChooseATL, an initiative to attract and retain next-gen talent.

2016: The year marked the passage of legislation to fund $2.7B for More MARTA. The Chamber also led the fight to defeat religious exemption legislation.

2017: The Chamber began the year in contemporary new offices at 191 Peachtree Tower and unveiled its new brand, including a new logo and website.

2018: The Atlanta Sports Council kicked off the first in a trifecta of major sporting events to be hosted in the region over the next three years: College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII and NCAA Final Four.

2019: Today, the Chamber continues to be a catalyst for a more prosperous region through efforts focused on inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship, next-gen talent, business climate, transportation, workforce development, education and advocacy on behalf of the business community. For the sixth consecutive year, Georgia is the No. 1 state for doing business.

MAC Chairs

Leader Year
Ed Bastain 2021
Marty Flanagan 2020
David Abney 2019
Russell Stokes 2018
Jeffrey Sprecher 2017
Jenner Wood 2016
Larry Gellerstedt 2015
Richard Anderson 2104
Paul Bowers 2013
Carol Tomé 2012
John Brock 2011
Bill Linginfelter 2010
Rick Smith 2009
Kessel Stelling 2008
Dick Anderson 2007
Mike Garrett 2006
Thomas D. Bell 2005
John G. Rice 2004
Arthur M. Blank 2003
Carl Ware 2002
Allen Franklin 2001
James R. Lientz, Jr. 2000
John A. Williams 1999
A.D. “Pete” Correll 1998
Jackie Ward 1997
Ambassador Andrew J. Young 1996
Bill Dahlberg 1995
Edward P. Gould 1994
Hugh Chapman 1993
B. Franklin Skinner 1992
D. Raymond Riddle 1991
Governor George Busbee 1990
Ronald W. Allen 1989
T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. 1988
Robert M. Holder 1987
Bennett A. Brown 1986
John Clendenin 1985
Lynn H. Johnston 1984
Robert Strickland 1983
Robert P. Guyton 1982
Herman J. Russell 1981
Thomas R. Williams 1980
Robert W. Scherer 1979
Jesse Hill 1978
Richard Kattel 1977
Joel Goldberg 1976
Ivan Allen, III 1975
Bradley Currey, Jr. 1974
Allen S. Hardin 1973
L.L. Gellerstedt, Jr 1972
Rolland A. Maxwell 1971
John Wilson 1970
Frank Carter 1969
AlbertJ. Bows, Jr. 1968
Augustus H. Sterne, Jr. 1967
W. Lee Burge 1966
Pollard Turman 1965
Rawson Haverty 1964
Edward D. Smith 1963
Ben S. Gilmer 1962
Ivan Allen, Jr. 1961
Edgar J. Forio 1960
Jack Adair 1959
John J. McDonough 1958
Francis M. Bird 1957
Hix H. Green 1956
Donald M. Hastings 1955
Fred J. Turner 1954
Robert R. Snodgrass 1953
H. Howard Dobbs Jr. 1952
Fred B. Moore 1951
Richard H. Rich 1950
Elbert P. Tuttle 1949
A. L. Zachry 1947-1948
Harry Sommers 1946
W.E. Mitchell 1945
L.L. Gellerstedt 1944
Carlyle Fraser 1943
H. Carl Wolf 1942
Frank Carter 1941
Elfred S. Papy 1940
Alvin C. Cates 1939
Charles F. Palmer 1938
W. Eugene Harrington 1936-1937
Wiley L. Moore 1934-1935
Herbert E. Choate 1933
Roy LeCraw 1931-1932
Horace Russell 1930-1931
Philip H. Alston 1929
Milton Dargan, Jr. 1928
George W. West 1927
William D. Hoffman 1926
W.R.C. Smith 1925
Paul H. Norcross 1924
Alfred C. Newell 1923
Walter O. Foote 1922
Lee Ashcraft 1921
Eugene R. Black 1920
Samuel C. Dobbs 1919
W. H. White Jr. 1918
Ivan Allen 1917
Victor H. Kriegshaber 1916
Mell R. Wilkinson 1914-1915
Wilmer L. Moore 1912-1913
Frederic J. Paxon 1910-1911
Asa G. Candler 1908-1909
J. Wiley Pope 1907
Samuel D. Jones 1906
Robert F. Maddox 1905
Joseph K. Orr 1901-1904
Lewis H. Beck 1899-1901
T. B. Neal 1896-1899
Stewart F. Woodson 1893-1896
Rufus B. Bullock 1890-1893
Junius G. Oglesby 1888-1890
Robert J. Lowry 1885-1888
B.F. Crane 1871-1885
William M. Lowry 1867-1871
W.W. Clayton 1866-1867
William McNaught 1860-1861
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