Red Carpet Tour brings hope to Augusta

Several companies are considering Augusta as a corporate expansion site, state and local business recruiters said Thursday during the annual Red Carpet Tour visit to Augusta National Golf Club.

The companies were not named, but Chris Cummiskey, the economic development commissioner for Georgia, said the field covers a “wide berth” of industries, ranging from life sciences, aerospace and automotive to food processing.

The tour is an economic development effort centered on the Masters Tournament. Since its inception in 1959, the event has generated more than $3.2 billion in state revenue and created more than 15,000 jobs.

Companies enticed to Augusta from the tour in the past include John Deere, Procter & Gamble, Sitel, International Flavors and Fragrances and, most recently, Starbucks, which donated coffee to Thursday’s event in celebration of announcing during last year’s tour that it was opening a $172 million manufacturing plant in Augusta.

“There are a lot of companies we are working with,” Cummiskey said. “The Red Carpet Tour could help us seal the deal.”

The tour draws CEOs from around the world for an all-expenses-paid, invitation-only, four-day trip through Georgia.

In addition to dinner at the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta and a reception in Athens, tour participants get access to the tournament this year. That’s when local leaders will make their pitch for Augusta.

The tour drew 24 companies in 2009 and 2010 and 27 in 2012. This year 80 people representing 30 prospective businesses attended.

Most participants, Cummiskey said, were working on expansion projects, while others were just starting the conversation.

Either way, Sue Parr, the president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, said the event is a proven way to tap into the “economic development pipeline.”

“Every year we try to see how we can improve and put our best foot forward,” Parr said. “You only get one shot and we want to make a good first impression.”

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