The Council for Quality Growth was honored to present the 2019 Fulton State of the County Address with Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts on Tuesday, May 7 to a sold-out crowd of more than 400 attendees. Sponsored by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority and the Development Authority of Fulton County, the event was hosted at Tony Conway’s Legendary Events elegant venue, Flourish.
Chairman Pitts shared key updates on what makes Fulton County “a big deal,” noting that customer service is a big deal for the county. “Fulton is in the people business – not just bricks and mortar,” and is focused on strengthening services such as:
- Senior Services
- Job Development
- Criminal Justice
Chairman Pitts shared that the county is working to make facilities more welcoming and appealing, with a major infrastructure campaign to renovate libraries wrapping up a 12-year $275 million master plan, with all renovations complete by next year. The county is undergoing a $20 million restoration of the historic courthouse, and just approved feasibility study as first step to construct brand new facility for pets to benefit residents.
He shared that a 2018 customer satisfaction survey showed satisfaction rate of 85 percent, and that the county recently was recognized by the National Association of Counties for its customer service program. In particular:
Healthcare: Home to some of the finest hospitals in the country, Fulton has invested $60 million and is investing an additional $80 million for a new surgery center to add to the number of patients Grady serves each year.
Education: Fulton is home to world-class programs from pre-K to PhD programs, as well as some of the best athletes – including five state high school basketball champion schools.
Criminal Justice: Fulton County operates two jails and the busiest courthouse in the Southeast. The county has a number of behavioral health programs around criminal justice, including the joint the pre-arrest diversion programs with the City of Atlanta that just received a $400K to expand the program to improve outcomes and lower the jail population.
Business: From Food trucks to Fortune 500s, many companies call Fulton County home, with more coming each year. Fulton accounts for one third of all jobs and nearly 40 percent of all wages generated. Last week Chairman Pitts hosted the first White House Opportunity Zone panel to discuss these potentially transformational zones.
Airport: Fulton County is home to some of the best-known brands in the nation. According to a 2019 Impact Study, Hartsfield Airport is responsible for 1,230 full-time jobs, $75 million in salaries, and $190 million annually contributed to the local economy. A series of expansions will continue to contribute to additional business expansion at the airport.
Chairman Pitts discussed ongoing challenges the county continues to address, including transportation, health issues such as HIV/AIDS and the opioid crisis, and sex trafficking.
In looking to the future, the Chairman remarked, “the day will come soon when there is a casino and horse racing in Fulton County.” He said that Fulton County will be the future home of a Grammy Hall of Fame Museum, and in the future also will be the home of a professional cricket team. Fulton will be the gateway to Cuba and the bridge to trade with international countries. Finally, he noted that Fulton is taking steps to reduce energy consumption and its use of plastics in order to reduce the carbon footprint and leave a better place for future generations… all the more reason why “Fulton County is a Big Deal!”