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T. Dallas Smith Appointed To Georgia's Economic Development Board

T. Dallas Smith & Co. CEO T. Dallas Smith.

Economic development projects often hit the public with ambiguous code names like Project Blue, Project Yogurt, Project Gem and Project Barracuda.

Now, one longtime Atlanta commercial real estate veteran is going to get a firsthand glimpse into the secrets behind those names.

T. Dallas Smith & Co. CEO Dallas Smith was appointed this week by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to the board of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Smith was among five people appointed to the 23-member board, which includes Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, Georgia Power Senior Vice President Pedro Cherry and Georgia Municipal Association Executive Director Larry Hanson.

Other appointees named this week include Bassford Cos. President Mark Bassford, Dixon Gin Co. Chief Operating Officer Jaclyn Dixon Ford and Henry County Commission Chair June Wood.

Smith's five-year term comes as Atlanta and the rest of the state have celebrated big economic development wins in recent years, including luring the headquarters for Mercedes-Benz and Norfolk Southern, Anthem's IT division and, most recently, SK Innovation, a $1.7B project in Jackson County that will produce 2,000 jobs.

As he prepares to join the state's economic war room, Smith said the Atlanta area will continue to build upon all that momentum going forward.

“We're poised in a way that we've never been poised before. I see nothing but blue skies for this city,” Smith said. “Just being in [commercial real estate], and we're currently working in 30 different states, Atlanta continues to buzz, and Georgia continues to hum slightly above everybody else.”

Despite a rising backlash against the state and municipalities' use of incentives — often in the form of generous property tax breaks — Smith said he is a supporter of their use. He added that he was more confident that aspects to Metro Atlanta such as quality of life and cost of living are bigger lures than any financial incentives.

“You're going to [offer incentives] to do that to compete,” he said. "But the intangibles are some of the things that will end up swaying people in our direction."