On the morning of November 3rd, more than 1,300 political, civic, business, and nonprofit leaders from across the Atlanta Region came together at the Georgia World Congress Center to explore and experience how connectivity and collaboration has the ability to improve the quality of life in metro Atlanta, and to honor those that are working every day to make it happen. Council Member and ARC Board Chairman Kerry Armstrong opened the event, and Council Member and ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker presented the State of the Region message, highlighting Atlanta’s recent growth and the population, job, and economic gains that are still ahead. He contrasted this with the significant economic disparities that still challenge the region, and urged those in attendance to commit resources and work together to bridge these gaps and ensure the region’s evolution.
During the event, ARC released the results of the fifth Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey, extracting crucial insights into the region’s views on a variety of issues that affect quality of life in Metro Atlanta. As expected, a key issue that emerged from this survey was the region’s transportation and transit. When asked to name the best long-term solution to our traffic problems, 49 percent of respondents said that the region should expand public transit – this compares with 41 percent that answered the same in 2013. Further, 51 percent say they would be willing to pay more in taxes to expand public transit.
Executive Director Hooker also urged those in attendance to get involved with the ARC’s Civic Dinners – an opportunity to sit down with metro Atlanta residents to dine and have focused conversations about local issues that are important to them.
The event provided attendees with the opportunity to hear from Ellen Dunham-Jones, Director of the Urban Design Program at Georgia Tech, Wanis Kabbaj, Director of Global Strategy for Healthcare Logistics at UPS, and Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta, as they spoke to the importance of providing world-class infrastructure, building a competitive economy, and fostering healthy, livable communities in the metro region.
The ARC also used the occasion to honor its 2017 development award recipients. The 2017 Development of Excellence award was presented to Parsons Alley, a retail development and gathering space in Duluth that brought a carefully-planned community vision to fruition. The Great Places Award went to the Atlanta University Center, whose civil rights legacy and commitment to community and preserving that legacy enhance the region’s character. Prestwick Companies and the City of Fairburn received the Exceptional Merit for LCI Achievement award for their Manor at Broad Street development; The Battery Atlanta and SunTrust Park was awarded the Exceptional Merit for Catalytic Development; and Council Member North American Properties received the award for Exceptional Merit for Catalytic Development for Avalon in Alpharetta.
The event ended with special recognition of individuals that have been crucial to ensuring the vitality and ongoing growth of the region. The fourth annual Harry West Visionary Leadership Award was presented to Alicia Phillip, a dynamic, philanthropic leader that has helmed The Community Foundation for forty years, growing the foundation’s assets from $7 million to almost $1 billion today. The foundation facilitates monetary gifts to nonprofits in 23 counties in the region, and has allocated more grants than almost any other locally based nonprofit in the Southeast, second only to the Woodruff Foundation. Finally, the ARC presented a new award recognizing notable, behind the scenes work that impacts the lives of all who live, work, and play in the region. The Unsung Hero award went to Jeremy Daniel and Mike Garner, Bridge Liaison Engineers within the Georgia Department of Transportation for their leadership throughout the exceptionally fast reconstruction of the I-85 bridge collapse.