(ATLANTA — Nov 02, 2018)
More than 1,400 leaders from across metro Atlanta convened at the Atlanta Regional Commission’s State of the Region Breakfast on Nov. 3 to take stock and explore the issues we must tackle to ensure the region’s future success.
ARC executive director Doug Hooker presented the State of the Region message, reflecting on the region’s significant growth in population and jobs, as well as the strides we’re making in addressing traffic congestion.
He also talked about challenges. In the form of an open letter to Georgia’s yet-undecided governor-elect, he addressed the need to work together on issues like housing affordability, addressing regional transit expansion, and improving educational opportunities.
“I know these challenges may seem daunting as you begin your first term,” said Hooker, “but they are surmountable, as long as we work together, as a region and as a state. ARC and the region’s leaders, many of them in this room, look forward to working alongside you on these critical issues.”
Moving Forward: Metro ATL Making Big Progress on Transportation
Harry West Visionary Leadership Award
The fifth annual Harry West Visionary Leadership Award went to Gov. Nathan Deal, in recognition of his efforts over the last eight years to improve quality of life across the state of Georgia.
Throughout his time in office, Gov. Deal exemplified bold leadership in an era when that often comes at great personal cost. He challenged both friend and foe to stay focused on the long-term health of the state’s economy and its people.
During his tenure, the state added more than 685,000 private sector jobs. Unemployment fell dramatically, and Georgia saw an unprecedented number of corporate relocations – many of them in metro Atlanta.
Governor Deal worked with state leaders to make great progress on a range of complicated and even divisive issues like criminal justice reform, transportation funding, and transit expansion. And he made it a priority to provide better educational opportunities for all Georgians.
What’s Next ATL
ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong informed the audience about What’s Next ATL, ARC’s new multimedia community engagement effort.
What’s Next ATL includes a speaker series, introduced last year, a website that provides a closer look at the issues facing metro Atlanta, and a podcast that launched on Nov. 2 featuring stories and intimate conversations about the big new ideas shaping what’s to come in the region.
Chairman Armstrong said What’s Next ATL is all about bringing more voices to the regional conversation.
“To truly address our region’s challenges, we must broaden the conversation and bring more people, from many different walks of life, to the table,” he said, continuing, “It’s not an easy task. Goodness knows, we’re all busy with work and family life, and it’s so easy to be distracted by the latest headlines beeping from our phones. But it’s a critically important step that we must take.”
Introducing What’s Next ATL
Metro Atlanta Speaks
ARC released the results from the sixth Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey during the event, providing key insights into the region’s views on a range of quality of life issues. Among the key findings:
- Transportation remains top-of-mind among metro Atlanta residents, with 28 percent of respondents reporting it as the biggest problem facing the region. That’s the most in the survey’s history.
- Expanding public transit is seen as the best long-term solution to our region’s traffic challenges, with about half of respondents saying they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to fund that expansion.
- While metro Atlanta’s economy is thriving, it’s not working for everyone. When asked how they’d handle an unexpected $400 expense, more than one in four respondents would not be able to pay it without either borrowing money, selling or pawning something.
- Housing affordability is an issue that has taken on greater importance in metro Atlanta. In response to a new question this year, nearly 90% of respondents said we are paying more than we should for housing.
Metro Atlanta Speaks 2018 Survey Results
What’s Next ATL Talks
Three lively speakers who are helping to shape our region’s future gave dynamic talks as part of ARC’s speaker series. These engaging talks align with the main goals of the Atlanta Region’s Plan: providing world-class infrastructure, building a competitive economy, and fostering healthy, livable communities.
This year’s event featured three speakers who’ve made remarkable advances in the communities in which they lead.
- State Representative Kevin Tanner, Georgia State Representative, District 9
- Chris Pumphrey, Executive Director, Douglas County Economic Development Authority
- Andre Dickens, Atlanta City Councilmember At-Large Post 3
Development of Excellence Awards
The agency presented the 20th annual Development of Excellence Awards, recognizing development in metro Atlanta that makes our region a better place. The top Development of Excellence Award went to La France Walk, a residential community in the city of Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood whose varied housing options encourage a truly diverse community.
Other winners were: The city of Chamblee and Mercy Park, Constellations in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Avenue District, Alpharetta City Center, and the Aerotropolis Area.
Developments of Excellence 2018
Unsung Hero Award
ARC presented its second annual Unsung Hero Award, recognizing notable work behind the scenes that makes a difference. The award went to State Senator Brandon Beach and State Representative Kevin Tanner, who shepherded the legislation which created The ATL, which expands transit options for metro Atlanta—as well as legal counsel Jenna Dolde, who spent countless hours drafting language for the bill.