How was CATLYST started?

CATLYST was built on the 2012 Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy. It provided updated goals and objectives to further advance the economy of the 10-county region and provide more opportunities for its residents.

The CATLYST planning process began in 2017 with regional data analysis, in addition to interviews, focus groups, public forums, and workshops. Overall, this engagement process included the input of 150 stakeholders, five 2-hour workshops with a 65-member regional Strategy Committee, an online survey of more than 2,000 area residents, and four 2-hour community open houses in Gwinnett, Douglas, and Clayton Counties and the City of Atlanta.

This extensive data collection and outreach process ultimately produced three guiding documents, completed in December 2017 with the assistance of Avalanche Consulting, which outline the CATLYST framework:

The Strategy committee filled an invaluable role in helping to inform and guide the development of this strategic plan. This group of 65 public, private, and nonprofit leaders was critical in ensuring that CATLYST reflected a broad diversity of perspectives from across the entire 10-county Atlanta region.

CATLYST Strategy Committee Members

Mike AlexanderDirector, Center for Livable Communities, Atlanta Regional Commission

Kim AndersonFormer CEO, Families First

Chris AppletonCo-Founder and Executive Director, Wonderroot

Kerry Armstrong – Chair, ARC Board; Managing Director – Development Partner, Pope & Land Real Estate

Kali BoatrightPresident & CEO, Douglas County Chamber of Commerce

Bill BollingChairman, Foodwell Alliance

Jennifer BonnettGeneral Manager, Advanced Technology Development Center

Frank BrownCEO, Communities in Schools of Atlanta

Chris BurkeDirector Community Relations, Office of Government and Community Relations

Taifa ButlerExecutive Director, Georgia Budget & Policy Institute

Mike CarnathanManager, Research and Analytics, Atlanta Regional Commission

Stephen CausbyManager, Community Partnerships, Atlanta Regional Commission

Susan ChanaDirector, Center for Strategic Relations, Atlanta Regional Commission

Nelson Chu Managing Director, Kinetic Ventures

Ann CramerSenior Consultant, Coxe Curry & Assoc.

Christina CummingsOwner and Managing Partner, CafÈ Good Spot

Jim DurrettExecutive Director, Buckhead CID

James FranklinCEO, TechBridge

David GillPresident & CEO, Henry County Chamber of Commerce

Ray GilleyPresident, Decide Dekalb Development Authority

Todd GreeneVice President, Community and Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

David Hartnett – Chief Economic Development Officer, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Ben HamesDeputy Commissioner, Workforce Georgia Department of Economic Development

Cinda Herndon-KingDirector, Atlanta CareerRise

Doug HookerExecutive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission

Tim HynesPresident, Clayton State University

Sally JamaraExecutive Practice Leader, Traversa Consulting

Marty JonesExecutive Director, Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council

Anne KaiserVice President, Community and Economic Development, Georgia Power

Sarah KirschExecutive Director, ULI Atlanta

Eloisa KlementichPresident and CEO, Invest Atlanta

Becky Kurtz – Manager, Aging and Health Services, ARC

Shelley LamarExecutive Director, Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance

Rob LebeauManager, Workforce Development, Atlanta Regional Commission

Craig LesserManaging Partner, Pendleton Consulting

Andy MackeRegional Vice President, Comcast

Rohit MalhotraExecutive Director & Founder, Center for Civic Innovation

Misti MartinPresident, Cherokee Office of Economic Development

Nick MasinoSenior Vice President, Economic Development, Partnership Gwinnett

Sharon MasonCOO, Cobb Chamber

Brooks MathisExecutive Director, Cobb EDGE

Comm. Russell McMurry  Commissioner, Georgia Department of Transportation

Amol NaikHead of External Affairs, SE, Google Fiber

Al NashExecutive Director, Development Authority of Fulton County

John O’CallaghanPresident & CEO, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership

John OrrManager, Transportation Access, Atlanta Regional Commission

Keith ParkerGeneral Manager/CEO, MARTA

Alicia PhilippPresident, Community Foundation Greater Atlanta

Courtney Pogue – Director of Economic Development, Clayton County

Chetan PrakashConsultant

Chris PumphreyExecutive Director, Douglas Development Authority

Rodney SampsonPartner Inclusion + Equity, Tech Square Labs

Meaghan Shannon-VlkovicVice President, Enterprise Community Partners

Sam Shenbaga – Manager, Community Development, ARC

Jennifer ShererVice President, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Neil ShorthouseFounder, Communities in Schools

Gregg SimonVice President, Economic Development, Metro Atlanta Chamber

Nathaniel SmithCEO & Founder, Partnership for Southern Equity

Detrick StanfordCOO, Clayton County Commission

Reid StewartDirector, InProp USA

Bentina TerrySenior Vice President, Metro Atlanta Region, Georgia Power

Tene TraylorFund Advisor, The Kendeda Fund

Carlotta UngaroPresident & CEO, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce

Bethany UsryVice President, Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce

Larry WilliamsPresident, Technology Association of Georgia

Joan YoungPresident & CEO, Fayette County Development Authority

Ken ZeffExecutive Director, Learn4Life Metro Atlanta

Janelle WilliamsSenior Associate – Family Economic Success, Annie E. Casey Foundation

Stephen VaultVice President – Business Development and Strategic Planning, Wellstar

Previous CATLYST Activities

June 6, 2018

April 30, 2018

January 25, 2018

August 8-9, 2017

July 11-12, 2017

June 20-22, 2017

Project Partners

About the Atlanta Regional Commission

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency for the 10-county area including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties, as well as the City of Atlanta. ARC is dedicated to unifying the region’s collective resources to prepare the metropolitan area for a prosperous future. It does so through professional planning initiatives, the provision of objective information, and the involvement of the community in collaborative partnerships.

About Avalanche Consulting

Avalanche Consulting is the nation’s premier economic development strategist. Avalanche is deeply driven to make a positive impact and seek clients who are equally inspired to energize their economies. Headquartered in Austin, Avalanche was established in 2005 and its team has a combined 80+ years of experience.  Avalanche’s clients include the best performing economies in the country, from small towns to metros like Charleston, Charlotte, Columbus, Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, and Oklahoma City.


Amy Holloway, President
Avalanche Consulting
(512) 917-3815

Ashley Rivera, Principal Planner
Atlanta Regional Commission
(404) 463-3231

Economic Development 101

What is Economic Development?

 Economic development is the process of investing in a community to improve its economic prosperity. Economic development includes activities like helping local businesses expand, and attracting new businesses into the community. It can also include initiatives to make the community a better place to live and work: improvements to quality of life amenities, education and workforce development programs, infrastructure, social equity, and business climate. The overarching goal of economic development is to create a place where residents have ample opportunities to build careers and improve their standard of living.

Why is Economic Development Important?

Economic development professionals work to improve their local economy and maintain a greater standard of living in their community. Economic development is important to a community because it improves the health of the economy and the well-being of its residents, making the community resilient, even in times of hardship.

Who is in Charge of Economic Development?

Economic development can be led by several types of organizations in a community. Sometimes communities have a dedicated economic development organization, sometimes the city or county government has an economic development or community development department, or sometimes a chamber of commerce includes economic development among its activities. Other organizations that might be involved are workforce development and education institutions, local governments, state governments, utility companies, community foundations, and convention and visitors bureaus.

In the context of the Atlanta region, ARC provides a forum for different organizations in the 10-county area to coordinate economic development efforts. For example, the 2012 Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy was initiated by ARC but was guided by volunteers from the public, private and nonprofit sectors on behalf of the entire region. The CATLYST Strategy will provide a roadmap for local governments and stakeholders to navigate economic challenges while building on strengths to remain competitive for jobs and workers.

Ultimately, economic development success depends on everyone in a community working together to establish a vision and accomplish goals.

CATLYST in the News

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Community Planning Academy
Georgia Commute Options
Green Communities
Metro Atlanta Speaks
MNG Water Planning District
State of the Region
WorkSource GA