Every January, Mayor Kasim Reed gives a talk to the Atlanta Press Club, and while the specifics of his remarks change from year to year, there’s one theme he returns to: Atlanta’s inferiority complex. No, he doesn’t use the term, but that’s the gist. Why, he asks, is the mood here so often dour? At first I figured his comments were tailored to the crowd; after all, when a politician addresses a room full of jaded journalists, he’s duty-bound to complain that they don’t write enough positive stories.
But as I’ve seen Reed speak in other settings, to different constituencies, I’ve noticed him making similar allusions. “We’ve got a strange way in Atlanta,” he says. “We’re not happy unless we’re sad.” The fact is, he’s right: We spend too much time comparing ourselves to other cities and not enough looking at what’s happening right here. Our attitude too often doesn’t square with reality. Here’s a short list of developments we should be proud of: the BeltLine, the streetcar, the civil rights museum, the College Football Hall of Fame, Ponce City Market. Here’s another: IntercontinentalExchange. Maybe you haven’t heard about it, but you should. Last December, the company announced it was buying the New York Stock Exchange. Yes, buying it. The whole darn thing. Which means the symbol of American capitalism will have owners who live and work in Atlanta.
We sent contributor Jesse Lichtenstein to sit down with Jeff Sprecher, the CEO of IntercontinentalExchange, and Kelly Loeffler—Sprecher’s wife, ICE’s vice president of investor relations, and the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream. It’s a wide-ranging interview and covers everything from how they hope to make the NYSE better for smaller investors and upstart companies to why Atlanta is such a beneficial place from which to do business.
If that doesn’t make you feel a bit prouder of living here, then I direct you to page 62, where we’ve captured fifty things to do in Atlanta that will make you smarter and, we hope, challenge you to look at this place we call home in ways you might not expect. One of Atlanta’s great attributes is that it’s constantly redefining itself, and we feel fortunate to have you along as we all bear witness to that evolution. It’s worth cheering about.