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Regional Leaders Explore Key Issues at First-Ever Virtual State of the Region Breakfast

Atlanta — Nov 13, 2020

More than 1,000 leaders from across metro Atlanta attended the first-ever virtual State of the Region breakfast, which focused on the most pressing issues facing metro Atlanta: the pandemic, the economy, and racial equity.

The event’s theme was “Finding Our Courage” as a region to address the immediate crisis and tackle the systemic challenges that serve as barriers to success for too many residents, such as a lack of affordable housing options and limited economic opportunities.

“Today’s health and economic crises only serve to magnify the systemic problems that have faced lower-income people in our region for decades,” said ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker in his State of the Region Address.

“Every one of us must help someone find their courage, resources, and guidance, to find an affordable home, stay in their home, step into a new job, or advance their education. We all want to see the Atlanta region grow and to truly be a ‘city that is not too busy to care.'”

The event was interactive and engaging. Attendees networked in the lobby, visited virtual booths in the Sponsor Village, and even video chatted with each other.

State of the Region Opening Video

‘Finding Our Courage’ Panel Tackles Region’s Challenges

This year’s State of the Region breakfast featured a “What’s Next ATL” panel discussion with some of metro Atlanta’s top leaders that focused on the pandemic, economic opportunity, and racial equity.

The panel was moderated by Amber Saunders, a rising legal star from the firm Naoulo & Sanders PC. Panelists were:

  • Frank Fernandez, President & CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
  • Katie Kirkpatrick, President & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Milton J. Little, Jr., President & CEO, United Way of Greater Atlanta
  • Santiago Marquez, CEO, Latin American Association

Here are some of their comments:

  • Katie Kirkpatrick: “I have strong sense of optimism based on the history and legacy of Atlanta and this region, that not only are we made for the moment but we are made for the journey. Because I think the issues that we are talking about today don’t end in 2020. These are going to become part of who we are and what we are working toward.”
  • Santiago Marquez: “Immigrants are resilient. They come to this country with nothing. They’ve already taken huge chances and huge risks, so we will survive this and we will come out much stronger. And hopefully, we’re going to come out united.”
  • Milton Little: “We all have to be willing to ask ourselves, ‘what are we willing to do?’ Not to go back to the old Atlanta but to build an Atlanta that is equitable and just for everyone. Each one of us has to assume some responsibility for building the future that’s going to be much bigger and bolder that the past”
  • Frank Fernandez: “How do we build a more inclusive recovery that accounts for these issues of equity. Because this crisis has peeled back the savage inequity that we have in our community. And so how do we think and act differently to change that trajectory going forward?”


Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Reveals Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

ARC also released the results from the 2020 Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey, providing key insights into the region’s views on a range of quality of life issues.

New questions on this year’s survey revealed the pandemic’s acute effects on employment, hunger, and housing.

  • One in four responses citing being laid-off, terminated, or furloughed due to the COVID-19 virus. 45% of all responses cited that they had their hours or wages reduced or have had to quit their jobs for safety reasons.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) received help from a food bank since March.
  • One in three respondents said they worked from home as a result of the pandemic.

This year’s survey also provided insights into the state of race relations in metro Atlanta. Nearly 12% of survey respondents named race relations as the region’s biggest concern, compared to just 4% in 2019. And in a new question this year, more than three-quarters of respondents (77%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “Discrimination against Black people in the United States is a serious problem.”

ARC’s 2020 Development of Excellence Awards Recognize Innovative Development and Visionary Planning

The Atlanta Regional Commission awarded four projects with the agency’s Development of Excellence awards, which honor developments and places that are improving quality of life for residents. The 2020 awards recognized catalytic projects in four categories.

Development of Excellence Awards

Visionary Planning

The North Point Placemaking Plan won in the Visionary Planning category, which honors state-of-the-art planning initiatives that will achieve lasting progress in the community. The plan aims to transform a six-hundred-acre area between GA-400 and Big Creek Greenway from an auto-dominated environment into a walkable, mixed-use district.

Innovative Development

This category recognizes a cutting-edge development that contributes to the region’s advancement and supports the goals and policies of the Atlanta Region’s Plan. The winning Adamsville Place development fills an important need in south Fulton County, providing 300 affordable housing units, a health center, and a charter school, all serviced by an onsite MARTA bus stop.

Great Place

The Great Place category was awarded to the Powder Springs LCI Implementation: Town Green and Historic Building Renovations. This award recognizes an inspiring space that enhances a community’s character and provides options for housing, employment, or recreation. The City of Powder Springs utilized an LCI implementation grant to renovate and expand its Town Green to more than double its size. The project also includes the rehabilitation of three nearby buildings for new restaurant and retail uses.

Livable Center

Livable Center recognizes a targeted project that significantly advances the implementation of a community’s Livable Centers Initiative plan. Built on a former parking lot at the Avondale MARTA station, Decatur East transforms the concrete lot into a bustling mixed-used, Transit-Oriented Development with an affordable housing component.

Other Videos from State of the Region Breakfast 2020

Voices of Tomorrow
Business Innovation
Chattahoochee Riverlands