City series: Airport, conferences, jobs draw people to Atlanta

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta has 51 water jets that provide relief from the heat each summer. The park is within walking distance of the World of Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Aquarium. | Photo submitted by Atlanta Chamber of Commerce

By Samantha Adams, Assistant Life Editor

Atlanta is the hub of the South. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is within a two-hour flight of 80 percent of the U.S. population, said Ashley O’Dell, public relations specialist at Atlanta’s Convention & Visitors Bureau.

A new terminal will increase already busy international travel to and from the city, O’Dell said.

The city’s accessibility makes it attractive to conference planners in a wide array of industries and to entertainers as well. O’Dell counted 27 major conferences and meetings scheduled in Atlanta in 2012, ranging from the Southeastern Conference football championship in December to the large fantasy and science-fiction convention, Dragon Con, which begins Aug. 31.

Matthew Parker, senior business administration major and president of  Students In Free Enterprise, said in addition to excellent dining and shopping, Atlanta is a natural location for conferences because so many universities and corporations built their buildings there.

The city is bound to be a place of curiosity and industry, he said.

Like most cities, a variety of jobs attracts graduates to Atlanta. Anne Guiler, senior mathematics major, plans to move to Atlanta after graduation to work with a camp she has worked with for years. Guiler enjoys city life, she said, so she was excited to find the camp is in Atlanta.

“I knew (Atlanta) would be an ideal place for me to live,” she said. “I love how large the city is and that it is in a warmer climate.”

One place in the city Guiler said she looks forward to living near is IKEA, the warehouse-style home furnishings company that only has a few stores in the country.

Recent college graduates often gravitate toward IKEA furniture, housewares and decor when outfitting a new house or apartment because its prices are significantly lower than other furniture and home-improvement stores.

As Guiler began to consider how she will settle into her new life in Atlanta, a church home and outreach opportunities were on her mind. While a Union student, Guiler worked with J Crib Urban Ministries, a mentorship and tutoring organization for middle and high school students in Jackson.

She is looking for a similar opportunity in Atlanta.

“There are some really great churches in Atlanta, and I have some friends who are a part of homeless outreach ministries,” she said. “After I settle in, and if my job allows, I hope to eventually be a part of an educational urban ministry in the city.”

When Guiler takes a break from working, she will have plenty of educational and entertainment options to choose from.

For both visitors and residents, a day or weekend in Atlanta should never be dull.

Parker said he experienced Atlanta’s culture when he traveled there with friends over spring break. He attended a St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city and visited the High Museum of Art, where he said neon-colored modern art pieces intrigued him. One popular destination allows visitors to explore one of the South’s most famous drinks.

The World of Coca-Cola museum shares the company’s history and unique goal of sharing the Coca-Cola beverage with every person on the planet.

O’Dell suggested people new to the city purchase a weekend Atlanta CityPASS, which allows visitors to choose five out of seven attractions to visit at 48 percent of normal admittance fees. In addition to admittance into the World of Coca-Cola and the High Museum of Art, the package could include a guided tour inside the CNN Atlanta Studio, a day-pass to Zoo Atlanta, or admittance into the Georgia Aquarium, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the Atlanta History Center.

A CityPASS for Atlanta can be purchased at Cost is $69 for adults and $49 for children.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.