News 12 at 6 o'clock, April 9, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Red Carpet Tour is celebrating 50 years of showing off the best of Georgia to high powered executives. It is no surprise it happens during Masters Week.
It's all about landing big business. But is the year to roll out the all-star treatment?
The Red Carpet Tour rolled into Augusta National with high-powered executives from around the world treated as visiting royalty in the middle of a recession.
"It would be nice if people would come to Georgia, because we're good guys," said Charlie Gatlin with the Georgia Department of Economic Development. "But there are good people in all states."
Organizers hope time out on the green will encourage the elite bunch to spend a little down the stretch.
"This is just part of our marketing strategy," said Gatlin.
This year's tour has been scaled back from the usual 32 guests to a little more than 20.
"The recession makes it tough," said Gatlin. "But people are still making plans."
Senator Ed Tarver took things a step farther.
"During these difficult economic times programs like the Red Carpet Tour are more important than at any other time," said Tarver.
The tour has produced 30,000 jobs in the state of Georgia over the last 20 years. But consider this, the recession devoured 22,000 local jobs in one year.
"If nothing else it gives folk hope," said Senator Tarver. "It lets them know that their leaders are doing all they can. We're looking under every rock. We're shaking every bush to make sure that we're doing all we can to serve the people of Georgia."
Augusta is doing its part...one awe-inspiring trip at a time.
After 50 years, the city is now planning to take red carpet guests outside Augusta National. We're told at least 7 people have signed up for personal tours this Saturday. There is no indication there are any deals in the works. We'll keep a close eye on the trip.