Arthur Blank

(b. 1942)

When Blank and partner Bernie Marcus opened their first Home Depot store in the northern suburbs in 1979, Marcus’s three children handed out dollar bills to attract customers. These days, after two decades spent building their home-improvement warehouse concept into the second-largest retail chain in the country, Blank is again handing out money as one of Atlanta’s most prominent philanthropists and civic boosters.

Best known today as owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Blank—an avid marathon runner—has sought to balance his interest in sports with support for the city’s cultural life, chairing a $200 million fundraising campaign to build a new symphony hall. Over the past fifteen years, through his eponymous foundation and his own bank account, he’s contributed more than $250 million to educational, environmental, and Jewish causes and is a strong backer of the BeltLine project.

Comfortable outside the spotlight at Home Depot, Blank has since emerged as one of his adopted city’s leading voices (albeit with a Queens accent), chairing the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, joining a roster of top CEOs advising the mayor, and serving as trustee for Emory University and the Carter Center. And his efforts to build a new Falcons stadium have been marked with a sensitivity for the project’s impact on Atlanta’s quality of life.

Role Model Blank often credits his mother, who took over their small family business after his father died of a heart attack when Arthur was fifteen, for teaching him to overcome adversity.

Photograph courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons