More than 1,200 business, civic, elected and nonprofit leaders explored the key issues and challenges facing metro Atlanta and celebrated the region’s extraordinary journey at the Atlanta Regional Commission’s State of the Region breakfast on Friday, Oct. 28.
The theme of this year’s event was “The Journey Continues.” Ambassador Andrew Young reflected on the milestones that have distinguished metro Atlanta from other southeastern cities and the visionary leadership that helped metro Atlanta grow from a railroad outpost to one of the nation’s largest and most dynamic regions.
Doug Hooker, ARC executive director, presented the State of the Region message, focusing on the progress that metro Atlanta has made in recent years and highlighting key collaborative efforts taking place across the region.
“We’ve come a long way since our region’s journey began way back in 1837 – we’ve risen from the ashes of war, fostered the Civil Rights movement, joined together to host the Centennial Olympic Games, and built a globally competitive economy,” said Hooker. “But our region’s journey is far from complete. As a regional community, we must constantly evolve to adapt to a fast-changing world and anticipate new challenges. Other regions aren’t standing still, and neither can we.”
Metro Atlanta Speaks Results
Also during the event, ARC released the results of the fourth Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey, which provides key insights into the mood and priorities of metro Atlanta residents. Among the key findings of the survey:
- Transportation remains the region’s top concern for the third-straight year, with 25 percent of those surveyed saying it was the biggest problem facing the region.
- More than 90 percent of respondents said public transit is important to the region’s future.
- Nearly half of respondents said job opportunities in the region are “excellent” or “good” — up from about one in three in 2013.
- 35 percent of those surveyed said life will be better in metro Atlanta in 3-4 years, up from 28 percent in 2013.
- Half of respondents said they could pay for a $400 emergency right away, with cash, check or debit card. About 14 percent said would not be able to pay at all, while an additional 6 percent said they’d have to sell or pawn something.
Developments of Excellence Awards
The agency also presented the 18th annual Developments of Excellence Awards. The first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John C. Portman Jr., in recognition of his extraordinary vision as an architect, developer and community leader.
The top Development of Excellence award went to Kronberg Wall’s offices in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood, which is located in a renovated historic church.
Other winners were:
- Lee Street Park & Amphitheater, City of Jonesboro
- Belmont mixed-use development in Smyrna, Halpern Enterprises
- Walgreens in Historic Olympia building
- The Atlanta region’s three national parks – Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
Harry West Visionary Leadership Award
The third Harry West Visionary Leadership Award was presented to Craig Lesser, a leader in metro Atlanta’s economic development community who helped launch the Atlanta Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy.
The event closed with a video that looks ahead to the Atlanta region’s future, featuring two of ARC’s Millennial Advisory Panel members.