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Title of the Plenary: Welcome to the ACF

Speaker: Mayor Shirley Franklin

Time & Location: Monday June 11 th, 2007 8:30 a.m. Marquis Ballroom B-D

As Delivered

Mayor Franklin: Thank you very much and good morning and welcome to Atlanta. It is my pleasure to serve as mayor of this fine city; I am the 58 th mayor of the city of Atlanta and we are very, very thrilled to welcome you. We’d like to say a special thank you to Secretary Carlos Gutierrez from the U.S. Department of Commerce, to all of you as conference participants representing some 30 western hemisphere countries and in particular three vice presidents and over 40 ministers of government. To Walter Bastian, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere, the Department of Commerce. To all of our sponsors, most notably CIFAL Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Delta Airlines, U.S. Department of State, and the Hispanic National Bar Foundation. Because of the decision by the Department of Commerce and the Secretary, Atlanta is hosting for the first time ever a conference of its kind and it is our real pleasure to share with you the city of Atlanta and to learn from you throughout the conference. We are thrilled to have such a diverse and high-level delegation in our city, that have come together for this important occasion. We hope that during your stay you will find Atlanta to be a city where openness, opportunity, and optimism abound. We believe that we have a lot to learn and a lot to share. And we look forward to this partnership and we offer the Secretary and the Department of Commerce an open invitation to return to Atlanta.

Atlanta is a fast growing, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and indeed the world. We have attracted attention because of our business climate, diversity, our very strong and deep civil rights history, our transportation lengths, world-class colleges and universities and research facilities, our entrepreneurial spirit and public private partnership tradition. For instance Atlanta’s success in engaging in the private sector has brought a multitude of benefits including jobs, innovation, workforce development, the world’s busiest passenger airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. And most recently we came together, public sector and private sector, to acquire the papers, some 10,000 hand written documents for Dr. Martin Luther King, which will be housed at Morehouse College.

We are known for our infrastructure. I mentioned the airport, but we are also known all over Atlanta and the region for our infrastructure in water and sewer. In fact ladies and gentlemen I am known as the sewer mayor for having raised significant funds and public information and public buy-in for water infrastructure. We are known for our public and private initiatives like the East Lake Community Foundation, investment in a neighborhood that was known as a war torn area and now is one of the most livable communities because of the private sector investment.

So while we have had tremendous growth and success from these partnerships, we know that we must learn more for this century. And we are invested through CIFAL Atlanta, the North American Affiliate of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, to reach out across the world especially in the western hemisphere, that we might learn more and share more. CIFAL Atlanta is our way of reaching out to learn more about what you are doing across the hemisphere and to share our experiences both successes and your failures. The importance of this conference cannot be stressed enough and I look forward to participating throughout the next few days. There is no question that in order for us to ensure future generations the prosperity that we have enjoyed in Atlanta over the last decades we have to be competitive in the world market. So the Americas, competitiveness, the Competitiveness Forum is right down our allies as we say. That is the kind of dialogue that is going to allow us to learn enough and to work together that we can ensure that our children and grandchildren will be successful.

The promotion of business, business with compassion, business with competitiveness is at the top of our agenda. I believe that our nation’s capacity to constantly improve the standard of living of its citizenry is one of the highlights of being a U.S. citizen. We recognize, however, that in the global marketplace we do not live in the world alone. And it is with that spirit that we come to you, as our neighbors and friends not just today, but over the generations that we seek to work with you collaboratively and in partnership to move literally millions of people to a higher standard of living. Thank you very much for coming to Atlanta. This is the home of Dr. King. It is in the spirit of peace, it is in the spirit of collaboration, and it is in the spirit of fairness that we attack this issue of competitiveness. Thank you very much.