By Mike Klein
Noel Khalil’s father had a sixth grade education and he drove a truck. His mother worked days as a keyboard operator, earned her high school diploma at night, and when the family needed more income she got a job in real estate. They would retire as millionaires but more important than any dollars or cents is the work ethic they instilled in three children.
“They taught us the value of work and the value of being responsible,” Khalil said at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 2014 annual dinner. “My mother let me know it wasn’t an issue of whether I was going to college; it was where you are going to college. Those were the value systems. That was achieved by them setting standards for everybody in our house.”
Khalil founded Atlanta-based Columbia Residential that specializes in affordable housing units. From no employees and no revenue about two decades ago it has grown to 250 employees and $45 million in annual revenue, Khalil says, “because the state of Georgia had an environment that didn’t erect barriers to small business people.”
Khalil’s family moved from Jamaica to New York when he was two years old. “They didn’t come to the United States looking for government assistance,” Khalil said. “They came to the United States looking for opportunity.”
Here is the video of his complete remarks at our 2014 Annual Dinner:
I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)