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Talk of the Bay

Ideas from a Gates put people in motion

Published June 19, 2006

When your name is Gates and your son is a Seattle success story worth $50-billion, you have no trouble attracting highbrow company, be it in Tampa or elsewhere.

So when Bill Gates Sr. called a summit in Washington, D.C., last week for his antipoverty group, the Initiative for Global Development, Tampa power brokers dropped work and hopped a plane.

IGD's local chapter formed last fall with a visit from the elder Gates. Jeff Knott, former vice president at Rooms to Go, is a charter member. So is Tampa immigration lawyer Bill Flynn and Joe McCann, business school dean at the University of Tampa.

At last week's event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, they mixed with the likes of Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Ted Turner. No less a figure than President Bush showed up to deliver an address on Thursday.

"It's like a who's who of the whole damned world," was how Knott described the company.

Under the banner of "Business Leaders Working to End Poverty,'' the initiative has enlisted business and civic leaders to lobby the govern-ment for more foreign aid to end extreme poverty world-wide. By extreme, they mean areas where people eke out life on less than $1 a day.

As befits business people, the group doesn't advocate the same-old, same-old model of foreign aid, much of which never reaches the the poor. Donations would be tied to market reforms that would ultimately create stable trading partners for the United States.


[Last modified June 19, 2006, 06:01:00]

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