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GDITT Commissioner Glenn Cornell Announces Retirement

Thursday, June 17, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Governor to Recommend Craig Lesser to Lead Economic Development Efforts

ATLANTA, GA - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Glenn Cornell, Commissioner of Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (GDITT), will be retiring on June 30, 2004.  Upon Cornell's retirement, the Governor will recommend Craig Lesser to lead the department.  Lesser is currently a partner in the firm of Griswold Lesser, LLC, which provides strategic advice and counsel on public affairs issues.

"Glenn Cornell helped navigate our primary economic development agency through challenging fiscal times, and I thank him for his outstanding service to the state," said Governor Sonny Perdue.  "Glenn will be leaving Craig with a solid foundation, and his hard work has helped prepare us for tremendous job growth as the economy recovers."

Cornell has worked closely with Governor Perdue and the GDITT board on several new initiatives.  He accompanied the Governor on economic development missions to Europe and Asia which have resulted in a number of jobs announcements.  During his tenure, additional emphasis has been placed on small business and entrepreneurship, support for existing industry and building on the economic development strengths of the state.

"I was pleased to learn that the Governor has asked Craig Lesser to assume this position since the success of the department is very important to me. He is the best person to take the Department to the next level," said Cornell.  "Craig has the skills to lead a very dedicated group of people, and I am excited about what they can accomplish."

Craig Lesser, 53, has worked as a corporate governmental affairs and communications strategist for 20 years.  He was senior vice president for external affairs for Mirant Americas, Inc., a spin off from Southern Company where he represented the company at the local, state, regional, and national levels.  Lesser was also president and CEO of the company's subsidiary in New York.

Lesser began his career at Georgia Power, another Southern Company subsidiary, in the corporate communications department and eventually represented the company in Washington for five years as an environmental, tax and general business issues lobbyist.  He then served seven years as vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs for the utility, directing its efforts at the Georgia legislature, the Public Service Commission, and the U.S. Congress.  Additional responsibilities included community development, urban affairs, agricultural affairs and the company's initiatives in public and private education.

Lesser earned his bachelor's degree in speech and theatre from State University of New York College at Oneonta and graduated from the Advance Management Program at Harvard University Graduate School of Business.  He is currently chairman of the Board of Governors of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and serves on the board of the Regional Leadership Forum and the Tech High Foundation, a newly approved charter high school in midtown Atlanta.  Lesser is on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce where he is incoming vice chair for government affairs.  He has also been chairman of the board of Georgia Special Olympics and a trustee of the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges and of the Georgia 4-H Foundation.

GDITT is the state's lead sales and marketing arm, charged with recruiting businesses, trade partners and tourists to Georgia. GDITT operates under the direction of a board of directors, comprised of 21 members appointed by the governor.  As of July 1, 2004, GDITT will become the Department of Economic Development.