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JP Morgan Chase, Brookings Institution start Global Cities Initiative in Atlanta | Business

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JP Morgan Chase, Brookings Institution start Global Cities Initiative in Atlanta
JP Morgan Chase, Brookings Institution start Global Cities Initiative in Atlanta

(ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE) -- Metro Atlanta leaders will seek to grow the region's global business opportunities through a new initiative kicked off Wednesday by JP Morgan Chase and the Brookings Institution.

The Global Cities Initiative, which is part of a five-year, $10 million multi-city effort ultimately will forge new city-to-city partnerships to create trade and economic relationships to prosper from the growing urbanization of the world's population. 

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed said the initiative takes advantage of growing businesses through exporting and by recognizing that the "Made in USA" brand is becoming increasingly valuable in the world. 

The two-day conference, held at the Academy of Medicine on the Georgia Tech Campus, will lead to a new Metropolitan Export Plan for Atlanta. 

Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, and the Mayor's Office of International Affairs, will lead the effort, assess marketing and business opportunities and begin to implement improvements. It will work with other core partners in the region, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center. 

"The Metro Atlanta Chamber has always promoted exports as part of our global commerce strategy," sid Hans Gant, senior vice president of economic development at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. We welcome the support of the Brookings Institution and appreciate the expertise they bring to this effort. Their improvement will enhance the collaboration among the partners in developing an export strategy for the region." 

United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) will chair the steering the committee, which will include the business community, universities and other local government agencies. 

The Global Cities Initiative is chaired by former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who said U.S. mayors are willing to sit down and talk to one another to share ideas and work together. 

"Every time I come here, there's an energy you have here in this city," Daley said, who serves as a senior adviser to JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM). "There's a city that has a great commitment to civil and human rights."

Bruce Katz, vice president and co-director of Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and the manager of the Global Cities Initiative, said each city has its own qualities.

"What Atlanta is good at is really quite different that what Austin or Denver is good at," Katz said. 

For example, Atlanta works well for a center for logistics, as a base for corporate headquarters and a home for major conventions and events, such as the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. 

"You are what you are," Katz said. "How do you collaborate to compete? How does a city mayor work collaboratively with its suburbs to compete? Is there a unified narrative?"

Reed said the Atlanta region tried unsuccessfully to pass a regional transportation sales tax plan last year." Although it was defeated by voters, Reed said the plan got unanimous support from regional mayors and county commission chairs. The mayor said he believes there's a growing appreciation of the independent relationship between the suburbs and the city. 

"If you live in the suburbs, maybe you'll come to the city to our new stadium," said Reed, who then quoted his father. "If you want a friend, be a friend."

Reed, however, did push back when responding to a question about how city governments were broke. The mayor explained the city has more than $100  million in reserves, it has just built a new international concourse at the airport and its bond ratings are strong.