With less than two weeks until the start of the fifth annual Tour de Georgia, the state's Governor, Sonny Perdue, announced Wednesday that telecommunications giant AT&T will sign on as a major sponsor for the April 16-22 race. The company will contribute US$500,000.
"It is an honour to make this contribution to the Tour de Georgia," said Sylvia Anderson, president of AT&T Georgia. "AT&T is committed to the state of Georgia and our communities. I believe this event will further showcase to the rest of the world our great state, our people and our culture. I want to thank Governor Perdue and the General Assembly for their leadership and commitment to economic development and tourism, (to) which this great event will certainly contribute."
"I am very pleased that our newest corporate citizen is continuing the long legacy of civic participation established by BellSouth and Cingular Wireless," said Perdue. "I have met with representatives from the new AT&T and remain convinced the company will continue to have a tremendous impact on our state's economy for decades to come."
The Tour of Georgia was short on money ever since former title sponsor, Ford Dealers of Georgia, terminated race sponsorship last summer. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Georgia House had included US$1 million for the race in a proposed budget for one-time funding to support the event, but state senators "balked and the item didn't appear in the version of the budget approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week." A final budget is in negotiation in conference committee, so the additional funding's fate remains uncertain.
Organisers estimate that since 2003, the Tour de Georgia has drawn 2.3 million spectators and generated a direct economic impact to the Georgia economy totaling $121 million. In 2006, the Tour generated a direct economic impact of $26 million to the state's economy.
2007 marks the first year the 2.HC ranked event will run for seven days instead of the usual six. As such, it will cover more distance than before: 1073 kilometres (667 miles).