For decades, state officials have been using the Red Carpet Tour – and its stop at the Masters Tournament on Thursday – as a strategy to attract new business to the state.
This year, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce is trying a new approach. The tour buses aren’t filled with prospective business owners, but with site selection experts from some of the largest consulting firms in the world.
The Red Carpet Tour has been coming to Augusta for 55 years. Officials cite 15,000 jobs and $3 billion in investment over those years.
The tour, involving 32 industrial site selection consultants, started Wednesday with a dinner at the governor’s mansion in Atlanta. It will head to Savannah on Friday after the participants had a day at Augusta National for Thursday’s first round.
“We’ve got a great opportunity with the Masters, to have an international brand to show what our state is all about,” said Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Carr said the advantage to having consultants on the tour is that they have access to multiple companies, expanding the reach the tour had in previous years.
Firms such as Jones Lang LaSalle, CBRE, Newmark and Grubb Knight Frank were on the tour.
Walter Sprouse, executive director for the Augusta Economic Development Authority, has been bringing consultants to town for the Masters for years, though they did not have an affiliation with the Red Carpet Tour.
“Our job is to build relationships. They know Augusta,” he said.
Sprouse said he knew three-quarters of the tour participants and has five pending projects with some.
He said having them on the tour is a good idea because they get to go on the golf course, which “completes the picture of Augusta.”
“From a tourism perspective. From an economic development perspective, we’re so fortunate to have Augusta,” Carr said.
Reach Staff Writer Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org