Maria Saporta, Atlanta Business Chronicle & Saporta Report
Central Atlanta Progress will give its prestigious Dan Sweat Award to Sam Williams, the former president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and a former president of CAP.
The award, among others, will be presented at CAP’s annual breakfast meeting on March 12 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The award is named after Dan Sweat, a past CAP president who led the downtown business organization during the tumultuous era from 1973 through 1988 when the business community was having to learn how to work with African-American political leaders at City Hall.
“Dan was my mentor,” Williams said. “Dan really taught me how the political and business relationships and how black and white relationships really worked in Atlanta – and how they can be managed for the good of the city.”
Williams remembered first meeting Sweat when he was a student at Georgia Tech in the late 1960s leading a protest at Atlanta’s City Hall. At the time, Sweat was serving as chief administrative officer for then-Mayor Ivan Allen. That lead to Sweat offering Williams a job – a civic partnership that continued throughout their respective careers.
“It’s a very personal award for me,” said Williams, who joined the faculty of Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies after he left the Chamber. He has been on medical leave, but he is recovering from some health issues.
CAP also will present the Turner Downtown Community Leadership Award to Vince Smith, currently pastor of the Northside Park Baptist Church in Buckhead. Most recently, he served as executive director of Atlanta Union Mission and the Gateway Center.
Finally, CAP will give the Marcus Downtown Economic Impact Award to the Georgia Aquarium. The award, named after Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, recognizes and individual, company or project that has stimulated revitalization efforts in the downtown area. Marcus actually donated more than $200 million to build the Aquarium, and he has continued to support the enhancements and expansions of the downtown attraction.
A new economic impact study shows that the Aquarium has had a total of 28.5 million guests since it opened in 2005. In 2017, 2.44 million people visited the attraction – of which 56 percent are from out of state. The out-of-town guests in 2017 are estimated to have spent $52.25 million in the Atlanta economy.
There has been nearly $1.7 billion in new investment around Centennial Olympic Park since the Aquarium opened in 2005, and there’s another $417 million currently under construction. Those numbers do not include the nearby $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium.