Council Board Member North Futon CID Executive Director Ann Hanlon Publishes Op-Ed in AJC: Transit Options Help Feed Boom

Transit options help feed boom

By Ann M. Hanlon

 Like all Community Improvement Districts in Metro Atlanta, the North Fulton CID prides itself on being a catalyst for change.

And like all CIDs in this region, we have supported our market through the ebbs and flows of the recent economy – using that precious time during the economic downturn to build projects and make plans for when the boom started back.

And in North Fulton, the boom is back.

The last few quarters have yielded so many success stories for the North Fulton market, including announcements for corporate expansions and relocations from Mercedes-Benz, State Farm, FiServ, Halyard Health, and Comcast to name a few. Ours is a thriving market with an educated workforce and good leadership.

True growth happens when a community can demonstrate that it has a solid plan for the future – a plan to address future needs and challenges over the next 10-20 years. Good leaders celebrate recent success, but they also challenge themselves to begin solving the problems of tomorrow.

In Dec. 2014, a European Commission study titled “Infrastructure in the EU: Developments and Impact on Growth” noted that patterns of private investment generally follow patterns of public investment in “transport and energy.” As both North America and Europe enjoy this period of growth after the economic downturn, it is becoming clear that markets that invested in planting the seeds of infrastructure will see the first blooms of progress. The private sector needs reliable infrastructure to meet its basic needs, and so it makes sense that economic growth will occur in communities that are addressing those needs head-on.

Public infrastructure needs constant maintenance and improvement. It is critical to develop financial platforms to do that job. CIDs provide a platform to fill that need – we can create a reliable, sustainable funding mechanism for infrastructure that keeps chugging along even in times of economic crisis. CIDs, partnered with the new transportation funding options created by the state legislature this year, give Georgia a step ahead of our competitors in the marketplace.

Within our master plan, Blueprint North Fulton, one of the largest, most impactful projects is the extension of MARTA into North Fulton along the Georgia 400 corridor. The CID funded the initial concept study for this project in 2010, and we remain hopeful that an extension of transit in our market will happen in some form very soon.

Under the leadership of Chairman Kerry Armstrong and Vice-Chairman Moses Brown, the NFCID has invested over $15 million to advance more than $80 million in infrastructure improvements since 2003. Our District includes three cities and over 350 commercial property owners. We represent the commercial space that borders Georgia 400 and extends out into Roswell, Alpharetta and Milton.

The NFCID has spent the last twelve years working with partners in both the private and public sectors to prepare our market for growth. And we plan to keep asking “What’s next?” for our community.

Ann M. Hanlon is executive director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.