ATLNext Industry Day honors Maynard Jackson Jr. legacy, diversity achievements  

By Anika Robertson

For the third year, ATL hosted a daylong event to encourage diverse business participation at the world’s busiest passenger airport. This was the first time, however, ATLNext Industry Day served as a forum to honor the former mayor who pioneered access to opportunities for minorities and women in Atlanta.

Industry Day celebrated the diversity and the success of Hartsfield-Jackson through the decades while looking ahead to future growth. As a new addition, the inaugural Maynard H. Jackson Jr. Awards Luncheon awarded companies and leaders with a demonstrated commitment to inclusion.

“Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. was a courageous agent of change who used his platform as Atlanta’s first African American mayor to champion access for all Atlantans,” said Airport General Manager John Selden during the March 5 event at the Georgia International Convention Center.

“Mayor Jackson wasn’t deterred by the unpopularity of his bold plan to change the way the city engages minority contractors. His decisions may have been unwelcomed at the time, but were necessary.”

Jackson was the first African American mayor of Atlanta, as well as the first of any major southern city in the U.S. He served from 1973-1982 and 1990-1994. When the International Terminal opened in 2012, it bore his name.

“The Airport is better, and the City of Atlanta is better for the difficult decisions he made. We’re all better when we include the many facets of talent and skill available in our community,” Selden said.

More than 350 participants attended the event. Industry Day sessions covered topics including procurement and safety requirements and upcoming project opportunities.


Maynard Jackson’s widow, former First Lady Valerie Jackson, said it was a joy to celebrate the legacy and ATL’s growth as a result of Maynard’s vision.

“I’m touched that his spirit of determination and equal opportunity continues to be one of your guidelines. Yes, Maynard was a visionary … but visions and words aren’t what build dreams,” Jackson said.

“It’s the ‘laying on’ of hands that really brings a dream to fruition,” she explained, adding the many facets of design, construction, operations and administration keep ATL No. 1.


“You have been a part of laying your hands on this continuing legacy of Maynard Jackson.

And make no mistake, we’re more than just an airport of steel and glass and airplanes and runways. Hartsfield-Jackson is a gleaming symbol of determination, of economic opportunity, it’s a vessel for affirmative action, it’s the spirit of excellence.”

Recently, the Department of Aviation joined an existing partnership with the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, with assistance from JAT Consulting Services, to enhance the Small Business Development program. The goal is to prepare and develop small, minority, and female-owned businesses to compete with larger firms and broaden opportunities to do business in Atlanta.

Airport Diversity Manager Valerie Nesbitt, who organized the event, congratulated the 2018 graduating class of the Small Business Development program, in which 40 businesses participated.

“The work that we do allows us to be a model for the rest of our county and even those throughout the world,” Nesbitt said.

“ATL’s commitment to diversity and inclusion contributes greatly to our growth and energy, allowing us to be a driving force in the aviation industry.”

ATLNext officially kicked off in fall 2016, and since then, the Airport has completed the North canopy, a solar-powered CV Hold Lot and Ground Transportation facility, as well as renovated the Transportation Mall and four concourses in the Central Passenger Terminal Complex.

Maynard H. Jackson Jr. Award winners are as follows:

Category Winner
Triumph Award JAT Consulting Services, Inc.
Pinnacle Award Robert Kelly – Kelly Construction
Leadership Award Doretha R. Smith – C.D. Moody Construction
Soar Award Dunn Aviation Group, a Joint Venture of
JE Dunn Construction, ENVIRO AgScience, Inc., and Southeastern Engineering, Inc.
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