Hall Of Fame: Lasting Influence

Spurgeon Richardson

Former President/CEO

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau


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


Hank Aaron

Baseball Legend,


755 Restaurant Corp.

Mack Mattingly

Former U.S. Senator;

Former Assistant

Secretary General (NATO);

Former U.S. Ambassador


Carl Patton

Former President

Georgia State University

Herman J. Russell


H.J. Russell & Company


A.D. “Pete” Correll

Former Chairman/CEO

Georgia-Pacific Corp.

Bernie Marcus


William S. Morris III


Morris Communications Co.


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


Tom Cousins

Former Board Chairman

Cousins Properties Inc.

Vince Dooley

Athletic Director Emeritus

University of Georgia


Tommy Irvin

Georgia Commissioner

of Agriculture

Manuel Maloof (1924-2004)

Longtime DeKalb County CEO

and Commissioner

Sam Massell


Buckhead Coalition;

Former Mayor, City of Atlanta

J. Mack Robinson

Businessman and


Ted Turner

Founder, CNN, TNT and TBS;

Environmentalist and



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;


Andrew Young

Former Mayor,

City of Atlanta;

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

Carl Sanders

Former Governor;


John C. Portman


Developer and Entrepreneur

Thomas B. Murphy


Longtime Speaker,

Georgia House of Representatives

Categories: Opinions