Metro Atlanta Leaders Gather at ARC’s State of the Region to Tackle Key Issues
Wednesday, November 17th, 2021
More than 1,400 leaders gathered at the Atlanta Regional Commission’s State of the Region to explore the key issues facing metro Atlanta.
ARC executive director Doug Hooker presented his final the State of the Region address before he retires early next year. He reflected on his 10 years leading ARC and discussed the work that is left to be done.
He highlighted several important collaborative efforts are helping improve quality of life in the Atlanta region, from Learn4Life, an initiative to improve education outcomes, to Aerotropolis Atlanta, which is designed to boost economic growth in the communities around the airport.
In closing, he challenged metro Atlanta leaders to keep working together to ensure a better future for all residents.
“I encourage all of you to think about what’s possible for our region,” he said, echoing the event’s theme, ‘A Region of Possibilities.’ “Because we believe that a better future is possible, which gives us the motivation, the energy, the conviction to press on in the present. What role can you or your organization play in moving metro Atlanta forward?”
Metro Atlanta Speaks
ARC released the results from the 2021 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:
Crime is residents’ top perceived issue facing metro Atlanta, the first time that crime has topped the survey.
One in three residents, or 33%, said they are working at home all or most of the time, while another 21% did so occasionally. Those figures are up from last year’s survey.
Some residents continue to struggle as the pandemic wears on. Nearly one in four said they have received food assistance from a food pantry or church in the past year, an increase from a year ago.
And 17 percent – or one in six – are “not confident” or only “slightly confident” about their ability to make their next rent or mortgage payment.
Regional Excellence Awards
The agency presented the 2021 Regional Excellence awards, which honor innovative projects, places, and planning initiatives. This year’s winners are:
Visionary Planning: The City of East Point and Food Well Alliance were recognized for developing the East Point City Agricultural Plan, the region’s first citywide agricultural plan. It is designed to increase access to healthy food.
Innovative Development: The City of Clarkston and MicroLife Institute were honored for Cottages on Vaughn, a community of “micro-cottage” homes that provide housing opportunities in a city where lack of available land has limited new home construction.
Great Place: The Trust for Public Land and City of Atlanta were recognized for developing Rodney Cook, Sr. Park in Vine City, which provides needed green space and flood control for the community.
Livable Center: The City of Fayetteville was honored for its City Hall and City Park Center, which is creating a more livable, lively town center.
Honorable Mention: The Decatur Housing Authority’s Trinity Walk Revitalization was recognized as an important example of preserving and improving existing affordable housing stock.
Harry West Visionary Leadership Award
The 2021 Harry West Visionary Leadership Award went to ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker in recognition of his career-long efforts to improve quality of life in metro Atlanta.
Hooker, who is retiring from ARC early next year, has held a number of key roles in both the public and private sectors, including: director of public works in the City of Atlanta; head of the State Road & Tollway Authority; leadership positions at large engineering firms; and leadership on numerous civic boards and committees.
“Doug, it’s hard to overstate what you have meant to the Atlanta region. We’ve all benefited from your fearless leadership, boundless energy, and giant heart,” said ARC Board Chairman Kerry Armstrong.
Metro Water District 20th Anniversary
The 20th anniversary of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District was marked by Metro Water District Chair Glenn Page, General Manager of the Cobb County – Marietta Water Authority, and Katherine Zitsch, who serves as Director of the Metro Water District and Managing Director of ARC’s Natural Resources Group.
They noted the significant progress made in water resource stewardship over the past two decades, and urged leaders to continue investing in infrastructure in the years to come.