CEO Michael L. Thurmond Delivers 2023 State of the County to Business Community
On Wednesday, April 26, 2023, the Council for Quality Growth, DeKalb County Government, and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2023 State of DeKalb County Address at the historic Pullman Yards in Atlanta. DeKalb County CEO Michael L. Thurmond delivered his 6th State of the County address to more than 500 Council and Chamber members, elected officials, businesses, residents, county staff, and partners of the county. This year’s lunch and program was presented by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority.
CEO Thurmond’s address, titled “All Aboard DeKalb…Greatness is our Destination,” fit the historic train yard setting at Pullman Yards. “I don’t want to talk about the streets we’ve paved,” Thurmond began, as he went on to define greatness with well-known icons of greatness, including President Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordan. He spoke about achieving greatness, posing the question: “If greatness is so transient, if greatness comes and goes, as with the weather, then why do we pursue it?”
CEO Thurmond is notorious for using this platform each year to speak more broadly about his vision for DeKalb. He answered the question with a history lesson on George Pullman, inventor of the luxury sleeper railcar. According to Thurmond, Pullman “recognized that the journey is more important than the destination.” The Pullman history demonstrates a journey marked with servant leadership – out of the Pullman Porters grew the black middle class and the Civil Rights Movement.
Thurmond called for leaders that understand the importance of being servants first and building relationships to bridge DeKalb County. “The journey – what you learn and the relationships you build – is permanent,” he said, “but the destination may not be.”
This year was the first time the State of DeKalb was held inside the City of Atlanta limits. President of the Atlanta City Council, Doug Shipman, welcomed DeKalb on behalf of his city, highlighting the strong partnership between the two local governments. Before he began his address, CEO Thurmond also presented three W.W. King Bridge Builder Awards to local business leaders and public servants for their great contributions to DeKalb County. This year’s recipients of the highest honor bestowed by DeKalb County were Dr. Vasanne Tinsley, Interim Superintendent of the DeKalb County School District, James B. Miller, Jr. with Ameris Bancorp, and Robert L Brown, Jr. with R.L. Brown & Associates.
The Council’s State of DeKalb County annually convenes the county’s business community with its local government bodies, as well as with other local leaders from across the region. “It is clear that CEO Thurmond’s leadership and his vision for greatness in DeKalb are shaping its communities every day,” said Michael Paris, President & CEO of the Council for Quality Growth. “We are proud to collaborate with DeKalb County and its local municipalities year-round to support a higher quality of life for those working and living here today and tomorrow.”
The State of DeKalb also featured remarks from Commissioner Robert Patrick, Presiding Officer of the DeKalb County Commission, Rob Ross, Chairman of the Council for Quality Growth, Brandon Hartley, Chairman of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Beatrice Williams, Co-Chair of DeKalb’s Bicentennial Commission, Jevon Gibson, CEO of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, Frankie Atwater, President & CEO of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, and Danny Johnson, Manager of the ARC’s Metro North Georgia Water Planning District.