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CREATE Awards Recognize Innovative Community Programs

Posted on: Mar 24, 2016

A suburban bike share program, a comprehensive transportation survey and an environmental sustainability program are among the innovative community building efforts to win a 2016 CREATE Community award from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

The awards, announced by the ARC board on March 23, recognize efforts by local governments that make the Atlanta region a better place to live. The awards highlight innovation in six areas: arts & culture, community involvement & collaboration, educational excellence, environmental sustainability, regional prosperity & economic development and technology.

“These jurisdictions are to be commended for developing creative solutions that help improve the Atlanta region’s quality of life,” said Doug Hooker, ARC executive director. “By honoring these programs, we hope to spark an exchange of ideas across the metro Atlanta area.

The 2016 CREATE Community winners are:

Arts & Culture

Prelude to the Fourth, City of Lawrenceville

Each July third , the City of Lawrenceville, in partnership with the Aurora Theatre, presents Prelude to the Fourth, a free outdoor musical performance. Held on the lawn downtown, the festival includes a concert, broadway musical and fireworks display. Last year’s 10th annual event attracted 6,000 people, roughly 20 percent of Lawrenceville’s population. The event  recognizes the economic and community-building value of the arts in communities of all shapes and sizes.

Community Involvement & Collaboration

The GR8 Exchange, City of Norcross and Partners

More than 4,000 Gwinnett County residents shared their views on the transportation during The GR8 Exchange, the most comprehensive transportation survey in the county’s history. The survey gathered input regarding the current state of Gwinnett’s transportation network as well as potential strategic investments that respondents would like to see in the future. Many partners promoted the survey, which was spearheaded by the City of Norcross, Gwinnett Village CID and Gwinnett Place CID.

Educational Excellence

Suwanee Youth Leaders, City of Suwanee

The Suwanee Youth Leaders is an eight-month leadership program for high school sophomores and juniors in public, private or home-based schools who live within three Gwinnett County public school districts. The program, focused on civic involvement, leadership skills and volunteering, begins with a two-day retreat and meets monthly, March through September. Participants hear from local leaders and learn about leadership principles, ethics, law and justice and community involvement.

Environmental Sustainability

Climate Action Plan, City of Atlanta

The City of Atlanta Climate Action Plan recognizes the risk that climate change poses to its citizens and provides guiding objectives and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Developed with input from the city’s stakeholder groups, the plan’s goals are to:

  • Reduce energy and water consumption in commercial and residential buildings in 20 percent by 2020 below the 2009 baseline
  • Increase the use of citywide renewable energy by 10 percent by 2030
  • Increase the landfill diversion rate to 80 percent by 2020
  • Reduce emissions from vehicle-miles-traveled by 20 percent by 2020
  • Increase green spaces and community gardens by seven percent by 2020 and 10 percent by 2025.

Regional Prosperity & Economic Development

Tri-City Initiative, City of Lake City

Lake City, Forest Park and Morrow formed a partnership two years ago to promote redevelopment and economic growth in their communities. The Tri-City Initiative, spearheaded by the leaders of the three cities, has brought the potential for economic resurgence within arm’s reach.


Zagster Bike Share Program, Town Center CID

The Town Center Community Improvement District’s Zagster Bike Share program provides an affordable, convenient way for people in the Town Center area of Cobb County to get around town. By using the Zagster mobile app or text function, a user is able to unlock a bicycle at any Zagster bike station. The first hour of the ride is free, and each additional hour costs $3. Operational since November 2015, the program now has about 600 members who have logged 1,200 trips. The bike share program is averaging more than 80 new members and 150 rides each week.