DeKalb Highlights Success at 1st Annual DeKalb Opportunity Outlook

On Thursday, November 10th the Council for Quality Growth hosted its first annual DeKalb Opportunity Outlook, expanding upon the Council’s successful Regional Opportunity Outlook Series. More than 175 industry leaders attended the event, which was co-hosted by the Decide DeKalb Development Authority, to hear from interim CEO Lee May and CEO-Elect Michael Thurmond.

May opened the program and laid the groundwork for the day with mentions of DeKalb County’s success and the creation of its economic development driver, Decide DeKalb, which was created by the hard work of the leadership of the Board of Commissioners and others.

Highlighting themes of One DeKalb and Collaboration, Decide DeKalb President Ray Gilley and DeKalb County Chief Operating Officer Zach Williams discussed reforms that have been made in the County, permitting and the importance of collaboration between the County and its economic development drivers.  Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson, who also Chairs the Peachtree Gateway Partnership, provided an overview of the Partnership and the important role it will play in driving economic development, relying upon the collaboration between the cities and county. MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe, fresh off a 72% victory in the City of Atlanta sales tax for a MARTA expansion, discussed the role that MARTA plays in driving development and workforce relocation, noting the role millennials and transit-oriented development have in relation to economic growth.

Council for Quality Growth board member Arnie Silverman moderated the “Why DeKalb? Why Now?” panel that featured Bob Voyles, Principal and Founder of Seven Oaks Company, Jake von Trapp,  Founder of Columbia Ventures, Weslee Knapp, President & Broker of Keller Knapp, Inc., and Devon Hudson, Founder of the Hudson Holding Company. The panelists highlighted the successful developments occurring in Perimeter Center, transit-oriented developments coming to Decatur, the revitalization of South DeKalb and the signal DeKalb is sending as its surges in growth and development.

Closing out the day was incoming DeKalb CEO-Elect, Michael Thurmond, who gave a rousing speech that focused on unifying DeKalb and the potential that a MARTA expansion could bring to the County. He closed the presentation with his vision for DeKalb as he prepares to assume office.

The Council would like to thank our partner Decide DeKalb, the event’s sponsors, ICEO Lee May, CEO-Elect Michael Thurmond, the panelists and attendees for an informative and thoughtful discussion in showcasing the success of DeKalb and the many possibilities for even greater success in the near future – and beyond.