Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corporations Donate to G-8; Planners Try to Lower Cost to Taxpayers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corporations Donate to G-8; Planners Try to Lower Cost to Taxpayers

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN BASINGER, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Gov. Sonny Perdue may not be able to buy the world a Coke, but he should at least have plenty of free sodas on hand for this summer's Group of Eight Summit.

The Coca-Cola Co. is one of several corporations committed to providing free services and products for the annual meeting of the world's leaders, G-8 organizers said Thursday.

"We're still in the process of figuring out how many units [of Coca-Cola] we'll need," said Erin O'Brien, spokeswoman for the G-8 host committee. "In total, Coca-Cola will probably commit in the half-a-million-dollar range; so will [United Parcel Service]."

State officials expect to spend nearly $25 million for security services during the G-8 Summit, which runs June 8-10 on Sea Island.

However, those funds, which will be reimbursed through federal tax dollars, won't cover all of the hospitality costs.

That's where the host committee comes in, aiming to raise $16 million in private contributions to cover various non-security expenditures. O'Brien said the committee expects to secure all the funds and supplies that are needed.

Among the other corporations already offering "in-kind" donations -- products and services in place of cash -- are Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic and Southern LINC, O'Brien said.

Discussions are also taking place with various companies located in coastal Georgia, including International Paper Co., Gulfstream and heavy-equipment manufacturer J.C. Bamford.

"We're working really hard to keep the costs down," O'Brien said. "We have a great response both from Atlanta and from the Savannah and coastal Georgia area."

This is the first year the United States has hosted the annual G-8 Summit since 1997, when it was held in Denver. The other countries attending are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom.

UPS will be in charge of shipping the baggage of the world leaders from Savannah, where they will arrive by plane, to various lodging accommodations on Sea Island, roughly 90 miles south.

"You'd be surprised how complicated the baggage service is for an event like this," O'Brien said. …

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