The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is not taking a stand on the move to make Buckhead a city, according to president and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick, who encouraged study of the move in an appearance before Buckhead Rotary Club members on April 26. 

“We have not formulated a position because we are a regional entity. However, from my position and the work that I’ve done, this is the most significant decision that will be made at a municipal level in the history of Georgia,” Kirkpatrick told attendees on the Zoom call. “I would encourage diligent study and looking for real datasets to understand what the impacts would be on the community if a new city were created, from an annexation perspective.” 

Katie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. (Special)

She added, “I think we should all be really concerned about that conversation without having a full set of facts before us.”

A nonprofit group called the Buckhead Exploratory Committee is promoting the idea of cityhood for the neighborhood and announced in March that a legal process has begun with the filing of state legislation. 

“The traditional role of the Chamber is to be a job-creation engine by recruiting companies to the region and helping those that are already here to expand and grow,” Kirkpatrick said. 

The Chamber also promotes international trade and goodwill, and drives connections and resources to grow the innovation and entrepreneurship sector in Atlanta, she explained. “I think all of you here will recognize that over the last 10 years entrepreneurs have really had a major, positive impact on Buckhead and the city of Atlanta.”

Kirkpatrick hailed the work done by her organization in the passage of hate crimes legislation and racial equity, environmental issues, public health and economic recovery. 

“We also host the Atlanta Sports Council, which is the favorite of mine because I’m a big sports fan,” she said. “In general the Council recruits major sporting events – the World Cup is what we’re pursuing right now for 2026. There’s the Super Bowl, college football championships, and the list goes on.” 

But Kirkpatrick sidestepped giving an opinion when asked about Major League Baseball’s decision to move its 2021 All-Star Game out of metro Atlanta following the passage of Georgia’s new voting laws, and the potential economic fallout. “I would say it’s too soon to tell and we are certainly paying attention as an organization focused on economic growth to any indicators that would show negative impact,” she said.

On the subject of public health, she said the Chamber is now focusing on providing resources to businesses about hosting micro sites for vaccinations and how to register for appointments. “We’ve partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta in a pretty big initiative around vaccine access and vaccine hesitancy, as it relates to our underserved populations.”

Kirkpatrick then ran through a list of recent ACC announcements: Microsoft is going to have a 1,500-person cloud computing center in Midtown; Zillow revealed  plans for 200 jobs in Dunwoody; Velux, a Danish manufacturer of skylights,  announced a 700-person headquarters in Sandy Springs; Papa John’s Pizza will relocate their headquarters to Cobb County; Adecco, a Swiss staffing firm, will make a large investment in Atlanta, and so will Google; Memphis-based ServiceMaster is relocating to metro Atlanta. “The fact that all those just happened in the last year is a testament to the appealing nature of our region.” 

She added, “The large cluster of headquarters is really important here because you build out ecosystems around those brands. Small and mid-sized companies push big technology companies to come because the customers are here. It just feels like there’s a real opportunity here for your company.”

Kirkpatrick took questions after her talk, and was asked by Kevin Glass, head of the Atlanta International School, about the difficulty his many employees have in finding affordable housing near the Buckhead campus. She offered to connect Glass with a group called House ATL that works to create housing opportunities in the areas that people work. 

Kevin C. Madigan

Kevin C. Madigan is a freelance journalist based in metro Atlanta.