Hall Of Fame: Lasting Influence

Spurgeon Richardson


Former President/CEO


Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau


Atlanta


Age: 67

For more than 17 years Spurgeon Richardson led the ACVB, and the hospitality and tourism industry soared. Millions of business travelers and tourists flocked to Atlanta, landing at the world’s busiest airport, attending conventions at the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia International Convention Center, visiting art museums or the Georgia Aquarium or the King Center, and everything else the city has to offer.

And Richardson was never shy about gushing on Atlanta’s behalf.

“Everything and everybody needs a cheerleader, and I’m happy to be the cheerleader for one of the world’s great cities,” says Richardson. “Tourism is one of Atlanta’s and Georgia’s most vital industries. We’re going through rough economic times now, and it’s affecting everyone, but I’m optimistic. I think the best is yet to come.”

If so, it’ll come without Richardson, who retired as captain of the Atlanta cheerleading squad in December.

The ACVB is forecasting a dip in overall income this year as the economic downturn takes its toll, keeping would-be travelers closer to home. But thanks to the foundation Richardson has engineered, the industry is looking for a rebound that would surpass 2007’s numbers: $11.4 billion spent by 37 million visitors.

For years Richardson touted the airport and the city’s supply of hotel rooms (fifth in the nation with more than 90,000 rooms and average occupancy of more than 63 percent); underlying all of it, he says, was the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

“That was the key that unlocked our unlimited potential,” says Richardson, who came to the ACVB after 24 years at Six Flags Over Georgia, rising through the marketing ranks, finally serving as president and general manager. “The Olympics put Atlanta in the world view.

“You can’t underestimate the importance of good marketing and public relations when the world comes to your city.” – Jerry Grillo



2008


Hank Aaron


Baseball Legend,


Founder/Owner


755 Restaurant Corp.



Mack Mattingly


Former U.S. Senator;


Former Assistant


Secretary General (NATO);


Former U.S. Ambassador


(Seychelles)



Carl Patton


Former President


Georgia State University



Herman J. Russell


Chairman/Founder


H.J. Russell & Company



2007


A.D. “Pete” Correll


Former Chairman/CEO


Georgia-Pacific Corp.



Bernie Marcus


Philanthropist



William S. Morris III


Chairman/CEO


Morris Communications Co.



2006


James Blanchard


Retired Board Chairman


Synovus Financial Corp.



Zell Miller


Senior Policy Advisor


McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP;


Former Governor,


U.S. Senator



Betty Siegel


Former President


Kennesaw State University



2005


Tom Cousins


Former Board Chairman


Cousins Properties Inc.



Vince Dooley


Athletic Director Emeritus


University of Georgia



2004


Tommy Irvin


Georgia Commissioner


of Agriculture



Manuel Maloof (1924-2004)


Longtime DeKalb County CEO


and Commissioner



Sam Massell


President


Buckhead Coalition;


Former Mayor, City of Atlanta



J. Mack Robinson


Businessman and


Philanthropist



Ted Turner


Founder, CNN, TNT and TBS;


Environmentalist and


Philanthropist



2003


Jimmy Carter


Nobel Peace Prize winner;


Former President



Rosalynn Carter


Former First Lady;


Mental Health Advocate



Dr. Louis Sullivan


Founding Dean, Morehouse


School of Medicine;


Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services



Sam Nunn


Former U.S. Senator;


National Defense Authority



Griffin Bell


Former U.S. Attorney General;


Former U.S. Circuit Court Judge



S. Truett Cathy


Founder, Chick-fil-A;


Philanthropist



Andrew Young


Former Mayor,


City of Atlanta;


Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Civic Leader



Carl Sanders


Former Governor;


Attorney



John C. Portman


Architect,


Developer and Entrepreneur



Thomas B. Murphy

(1924-2007)


Longtime Speaker,


Georgia House of Representatives

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