Philanthropy in Atlanta: The Multiplier Effect
We are accustomed to seeing headlines about big philanthropic donations or seeing billionaire’s names on buildings, but do you ever stop to think about the massive multiplier effect these philanthropic donations have? On everything from job growth to real estate worth to quality of life?
In Atlanta, we have a multitude of big givers—from Home Depot’s Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank to the Coca-Cola-affiliated Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to CNN’s Ted Turner.
Let’s take a deep dive into how philanthropic giving impacts Atlanta, focusing specifically on Bernie Marcus.
Growth of The Home Depot
The Home Depot got its start with two entrepreneurs and two Atlanta stores, one in Doraville and one in Decatur, in former Treasure Island locations. Marcus and Blank grew that humble beginning to 2,200+ stores, simultaneously profiting from the DIY craze and revolutionizing the industry.
The growth of Home Depot in Atlanta significantly impacted Atlanta. First, think about the real estate. Home Depot eventually built a huge headquarters, a call center and then another mini-headquarters. Then, consider all the construction jobs required to build these facilities as well as the internal Home Depot jobs created.
Deep, Deep Pockets
The AJC states Bernie Marcus is currently worth $4.5 billion and has donated $2 billion to philanthropic causes. The article also shares that “after he dies, 80 to 90 percent of whatever is left of his wealth will go to his foundation,” with priorities including autism treatment research and veteran healthcare centers.
Here are a few of Marcus’ philanthropic efforts:
- Marcus Autism Center
- Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center
- Marcus Heart Valve Center
- Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA)
- Georgia Aquarium
Spotlight on the Georgia Aquarium
Let’s look specifically at the Georgia Aquarium to consider this multiplier effect. The Georgia Aquarium was basically Marcus’ $250 million gift to Atlanta. And what kind of impact has it had?
According to a 2016 Atlanta Business Chronicle article, “the downtown attraction has contributed $1.9 billion to the state’s economy since it opened in late 2005.”
Other impressive 2016 stats include:
- 35 million visitors per year, with 60% from out-of-state
- Visitors expected to spend $52.4 million in 2016
- Created 11,000 construction jobs, from original construction to latest expansion
- Supports 2,000 permanent jobs, with projected $30 million in direct payroll
- Generates $8.1 million in local and state tax revenue each year
- Serves as catalyst for new development in Centennial Olympic Park district
And that impact has only continued in the last four years.
It’s pretty mind-blowing to look deeply into how just ONE of Marcus’ philanthropic entities impacts Atlanta. Now think about the many doctors, nurses, patients, scientists, athletes, families and children that are impacted every day due to his numerous medical centers and the MJCCA.
This is exactly what I mean by the multiplier effect.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Philanthropy like this gives people jobs, increases real estate values and, most importantly, improves quality of life by building community.
The multiplier effect of Bernie Marcus’s and philanthropic efforts is enormous—Atlanta has been a lucky recipient for the past generation and will continue to benefit for many more.