Mark David Richards
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of Richard A.
on behalf of
The District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce
The Committee on Economic Development of the
Council of the District of
14-187, "The Chesapeake Regional Olympic Games Authority
May 30, 2001
Chairman Brazil, members of
the Committee, good morning. My name is Richard Monteilh. I am President
of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, which is the lead
representative for District-based business. From 1991 to 1997 I served as
Executive Director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority. I
know from direct experience that hosting the Olympic games is a complex
and demanding undertaking. My message to you today is that it is also a
uniquely valuable opportunity for those cities which win it. I speak on
behalf of Chamber membership in urging this Committee's speedy and
unanimous favorable vote on Bill 14-187, "The Chesapeake Regional
Olympic Games Authority Act."
I experienced the
substantial positive impact of the Olympic Games on an American host city
during my management of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority,
or "MAOGA." MAOGA was chartered by the state of Georgia in 1989.
Its purpose was to contract on behalf of the state with the International
Olympic Committee. We were also responsible for building the Olympic
Stadium, the most costly and important facility of the Atlanta Games. But
most importantly, MAOGA was charged with oversight of all construction
contracts entered into by Atlanta's Olympics host committee or "ACOG,"
the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. MAOGA worked with ACOG
successfully to ensure that spending to create the Olympic facilities did
not go beyond the host committee's own resources. We were able to certify,
two years before the Games opened, that the Atlanta event would, at the
very least, break even, and that the region and its taxpayers would be
As I saw firsthand
during my work in Atlanta, the economic benefits which accrue to Olympic
host cities are both substantial and long term. This is important to the
business constituencies which the D.C. Chamber of Commerce represents.
Many Chamber members are engaged in the city's hospitality
industry. We represent more than 30 of the city's major hotels and hotel
booking services. Through our recent joint venture with the Restaurant
Association of Metropolitan Washington, we advocate on behalf of more
than 150 of the District's top restaurants and clubs. We count among our
membership dozens of the District's major development and commercial
real estate firms, as well as a good number of smaller construction
trades enterprises. .These businesses will benefit directly from our
region's involvement in the Games. Many other Chamber members stand to
benefit indirectly from the spin-off of an event of this scale.
From the Chamber's point of view, benefit to the District-based business
community alone is sufficient to warrant your quick and favorable action
on the legislation before you. But clearly, the benefits which would
result from staging the 2012 Olympics in our region will penetrate
deeply into our communities, across the range of constituencies you
represent. It is reasonable for the District to anticipate benefits
similar to those experienced by Atlanta, and other Olympic cities,
Enhanced city and regional image, including a boost to our
hospitality industry Hosting the Olympics made Sydney, Australia, previously a moderately
successful destination city, the top venue for convention business this
year. Out-of-state visitors spent an estimated $2.5 billion in the
course of the Atlanta games. Hospitality and tourism is the District's
top private sector economic driver. Hosting the Olympics will enhance
our standing and, through the repeat business the Games can be expected
to generate, permanently increase District-based jobs and business
New contracting opportunities for local enterprise According to the
official report of the Atlanta Olympics, the total economic benefit of
the Games to the Georgia economy was $5.1 billion, over the period 1991
- 1997, approximately half coming from spending by the Olympic host
committee. Much of this amount went into contracts performed by
Job creation The Atlanta Olympics created approximately 77,000 full- and
part-time jobs. ACOG helped provide funding to local job training
organizations to prepare disadvantaged Atlantans for construction jobs
created by the Games.
Local tax revenue Official reports estimate that the Atlanta games
generated $176 million in additional state revenues, through sales,
income, corporate, and license taxes.
Affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization
In Atlanta, the Games
created opportunities for clearing vacant and blighted areas of the
downtown for affordable housing. MAOGA used its eminent domain
authority, in conjunction with subsidies provided by ACOG and through
local community development corporations to create more than 700 new
units of affordable housing.
Permanent infrastructure improvements Often
overlooked, in the calculation of the Games' benefits to host cities,
are the significant infrastructure improvements which they leave behind,
paid for not by local taxpayers but by the host committee itself. In the
case of Atlanta, these included major capital improvements for the
city's historically black colleges and universities - a new gym for
Morehouse, a new football field at Clark, 7,000 dormitory rooms at
Georgia Tech. The centerpiece of the Atlanta Olympics - the $209 million
stadium which is now home to the Atlanta Braves -- was built and paid
for by the Atlanta host committee. The opportunity presented by the
Games also triggered substantial private sector investment - overall
construction project spending, starting with ACOG's $500 million budget,
reached a total of $2 billion.
The ability of the Olympic Games to make significant and lasting
contributions throughout a host's city's economy is clear. Should
Washington, D.C. become an Olympic host it will benefit, as did Atlanta
before it, from enhanced international image, long-term tourism
increases, and creation of contracting and job opportunities which build
the local economy - and the access of small and minority entrepreneurs
and workers to it, as well as from lasting capital improvements to the
cityscape. Let me note in closing that hosting the Olympics offers
Greater Washington an unbeatable opportunity to think like - and begin
to reap the benefits of acting like - the economic region we are.
The D.C. Chamber of Commerce will continue to work in full support of
the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition efforts to bring the Olympics to
the Washington Region. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before
you this morning. I am happy to respond to any questions which the
Committee may have.