New look and direction for city’s economic development agency and job creation plans stand as major themes of speech at annual breakfast.
Responding to changing economic dynamics and untapped business opportunities, the City of Atlanta today launched “Invest Atlanta,” a modernized version of the city’s economic development agency formerly known as the Atlanta Development Authority, Mayor Kasim Reed said.
Mayor Reed unveiled Invest Atlanta during his annual State of the City business breakfast address before more than 900 business and community leaders at the Georgia World Congress Center. During his speech, Reed stressed the necessity for a focus on economic development and job creation through 2012.
“I have made economic development one of my Administration’s top priorities, and this change represents an effort to modernize our approach to economic growth,” said Mayor Reed, who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Invest Atlanta. “We must get our economy moving again because our unemployment level is too high and families are hurting. Focusing on business creation, attraction, retention and expansion not only creates jobs but also brings in new tax revenues for the city.”
Invest Atlanta, led by President and CEO Brian McGowan, will focus on making the city a job growth engine again and creating an environment to attract, create and retain jobs. Invest Atlanta will continue to help residents purchase homes, issue bonds and incentives for new development and provide small business loans but will place a strong focus on attracting new investment, international trade and innovation and entrepreneurship.
Invest Atlanta’s mission and objectives are to make economic growth and competitiveness a top priority by focusing heavily on business development and working strategically to market the rich opportunities and unrivaled qualities Atlanta offers on a national and international level.
During his State of the City address, Mayor Reed also unveiled a new citywide initiative called TweetMyJobs to help put unemployed residents back to work. The technology delivers relevant job listings instantly to job seekers via Facebook, Twitter, email and mobile devices and allows for job referrals and introductions. Employers using the platform gain the opportunity to recruit qualified candidates via social media, thereby reaping the competitive advantage of reaching them faster.
“I am pleased to announce the launch of Atlanta’s new online jobs platform in partnership with TweetMyJobs,” Mayor Reed said. “TweetMyJobs will help bridge the gap between the jobs our residents are seeking and the positions available. With more than 85,000 job listings on this new platform, this is just one of the ways we are using technology in an innovative way to keep Atlanta working.”
This year’s breakfast was sponsored by the Atlanta Committee for Progress and The Coca-Cola Company. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, served as host. “Together with the City Council, our mayor has improved Atlanta’s financial footing in a very significant way: ramping up reserves, controlling costs and reforming the city’s pension obligations,” Mr. Kent said. “Along with other city leaders and public safety officials, he’s making Atlanta a safer, more pleasant and more livable city.”
During his speech, Mayor Reed also highlighted major accomplishments of his first two years in office, which effectively restored the financial foundation of the city, improved the perception and reality of safety in the city, and restored numerous basic city services. These included:
- Two years of balanced budgets – with no property tax increases – that resulted in growing the city’s cash reserves from $7.4 million in January 2010 to $94.4 million dollars audited in less than 24 months.
- Resolution of the city’s looming pension crisis, thereby addressing a $1.5 billion unfunded liability and saving the city more than $270 million over the next 10 years.
- Recruitment of more than 400 new police officers for a force of more than 1,850 on way to a goal of 2,000, making the current Atlanta Police Department the biggest in the city’s history.
- Boost of Atlanta Fire Rescue Department’s sworn staff by 75 through a $9.8 million Department of Homeland Security grant that pays them for the next three years.
- Adoption of a new permitting plan that consolidates and streamlines the process in ways that will save money, increase transparency and encourage job growth and economic development.
- Reduction of city’s backlog of more than 5,000 code violations two years ago to fewer than 1,000, with a plan to eliminate the backlog completely by summer.
“We’ve made real progress in delivering on the issues that matter most to residents and taxpayers,” Mayor Reed said. “It is my sincere hope that when the story of Atlanta today is written, the authors will find that we dared to strive for excellence in the midst of grave challenges, and that we succeeded in meeting our collective goals.”