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Talking Mobility in Atlanta’s Aerotropolis: Four Questions for Gerald McDowell

Posted on: Feb 14, 2018

As someone with a deep interest in transforming one metro Atlanta community for the better, Gerald McDowell saw a unique opportunity in ARC Civic Dinners. McDowell is executive director of Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts, which is dedicated to creating an economically vibrant, safe, and attractive community in the neighborhoods surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Hosting a Civic Dinner about mobility was a natural choice — and opportunity for McDowell to connect more deeply to the citizens who live and work in the Aerotropolis area.

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Who came to your civic dinner?

We had a total of nine people, and it was so diverse: people who live and work in the Aerotropolis area and those who don’t. One guest worked at Hartsfield-Jackson but lived outside the airport area — so she saw this dinner as an opportunity to be part of a more personal conversation in the community where she works, which is a rare thing.

What did you learn?

We realized as a group that there are two tracks we need to take [in our work with the Aerotropolis]: We need to focus on mobility within the area. But we also need to consider how the Aerotropolis connects to the rest of the region. A lot of people in metro Atlanta want to be more connected to Hartsfield-Jackson. So, that’s something to work on.

How will you advance the conversations started during your civic dinner?

There were two dinner guests who stayed behind once everyone else left. They just had more to say. Both lived in the Aerotropolis area and were just very concerned with this issue of mobility. We talked for over an hour, and we’re going to continue the conversation. We’ve set up lunches!

What do you like about the civic dinners concept?

A lot of times when we go to the public, we’re going because it’s a public meeting, or we’re seeking formal public input, but these dinners allow you to have an informal, casual get-together in which we all let down our guard. For me, it’s great to be able to go to folks who actually live and work in the Aerotropolis area every day. It’s definitely something I’d like to do again.

Did you know…?
There’s no cost burden at a civic dinner; everyone splits the bill. Cooking at home? Make it a potluck meal to meet new neighbors! It’s up to you. Sign up here.