Businesses to Trump: Atlanta on the upswing, not falling behind

Atlanta business operators said Saturday they did not recognize the 5th district that President-elect Donald Trump described in an overnight tweet.

Instead of being in "horrible shape" or "falling apart," they said Atlanta is exploding with opportunity, whether you've hooked up with incubators at Atlanta Tech Village or Georgia Tech to become the next Apple computers or looking to get cast in the ever-expanding number of movies shot here, including "Captain America," "Rush Hour" or "The Hunger Games."

“Atlanta is coming into its prime right now,” said B.A. Albert, vice president of creative strategy at advertising shop the Dalton Agency. “It’s so much stronger than anywhere in the south.

“It’s just a great place to be a businessowner,” said Albert, who has owned several businesses, including Match, a small independent advertising agency she ran for 12 years in Atlanta’s 5th district. “Atlanta is especially welcoming to women entrepreneurs.”

Trump made the remarks Saturday in response to comments earlier in the week from U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Atlanta), who called Trump’s presidency illegitimate and said he would not participate in the inauguration.

Trump said Lewis "should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)."

The district is huge, reaching roughly as far north as Brookhaven and as far south as Morrow. The borders east and west nearly touch Decatur and Cobb County respectively. In between are Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Coca-Cola and Atlanta BeltLine.

Alexa Ryan, owner of The Beer Girl, in Hapeville, said operating in the 5th district has been idyllic. It’s safe, there are no rats like one would find in a failing area and she’s benefited from the burgeoning film industry near her shop where TV shows like “The Walking Dead” is filmed.

“It’s kind of a progressive little city,” she bragged. “The police here are awesome.”

Tom Smith, an economist at Emory University, said it’s hard to take Trump seriously when you list all of the district’s attributes, including the renovated Ponce City Market complex, the Porsche track at the German automaker’s North American headquarters near Hartsfield or all the new tech companies that are persuading millennials and baby boomers to eschew the suburbs for Atlanta.

“The evidence is to the contrary,” he said of Trump’s statement. “Sure Atlanta has its problems, as most cities do, but it has been above the curve since the recession.”

Jeri McWilliams, the facilities manager at the Wren’s Nest near the district’s heart, said she does think Lewis could do more to improve the area. For instance, she said he used to be on the museum’s board, but he hasn’t visited or donated for years.

But Trump, she said, has a lot more on his plate to worry about than critiquing Atlanta.

“If he would just concentrate on the nation, he would be OK,” she said.

Staff writers Arielle Kass and Chris Quinn contributed to this story.