LINK℠: Visiting Other Regions to Help Address Issues at Home
Every year, the LINK℠ program takes the region’s most influential leaders to another metropolitan area in North America to learn about new ideas and approaches for dealing with the issues and challenges facing metro Atlanta.
The LINK program began in 1997 as a way to build on the remarkable level of regional cooperation that occurred in conjunction with Atlanta hosting the Centennial Olympic Games. Indeed, the trips have helped metro Atlanta leaders get to know each other much better, strengthening these critically important relationships.
LINK 20th Anniversary
During each trip, leaders from the Atlanta region have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with their counterparts from other regions. They explore solutions and exchange ideas for improving the Atlanta region and fostering positive community change.
The LINK delegation has seen first-hand how public art is reshaping Philadelphia communities and learned about new kinds of transit in San Diego. In Vancouver, participants visited “complete communities” built to accommodate people of all ages. And in Washington, D.C., the group saw how transit has sparked walkable development across the region.
LINK participants have brought a number of good ideas home with them:
- The regional public opinion survey from the Kinder Institute at Houston’s Rice University inspired ARC and its partners to launch the Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey, which helps inform regional planning and decision-making.
- The Mayor’s Roundtable in Chicago sparked the creation of the Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association.
- And Seattle’s Prosperity Partnership served as a model for the Atlanta Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy.
2017 LINK Trip to Detroit
LINK traveled to the Detroit region in 2017 to learn about Detroit’s renaissance and search for lessons that could help address key challenges back home. On one hand, Detroit’s well-known struggles provided a cautionary tale about what might happen when a region’s urban core sharply declines. But Detroit’s remarkable rise from the ashes of bankruptcy offered plenty of inspiration for metro Atlanta. The region’s determined entrepreneurial spirit and penchant for innovation generated a buzz among LINK participants.
LINK participants were inspired by the honesty and transparency of the “Detroiters” they met. Key takeaways included open discussions about race and equity, economic diversification, confronting difficult issues before they become overwhelming, and taking steps to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen in metro Atlanta. But perhaps the most surprising takeaway was the optimism felt by all.
- Report from 2016 LINK Trip to Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Report from 2015 LINK Trip to Toronto
- Report from 2014 LINK Trip to Philadelphia
- Report from 2013 LINK Trip to Houston