(ATLANTA, February 27, 2014) — Each year, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) recognizes local governments for their innovation and creative efforts to make the Atlanta region a better place through its CREATE Community Local Government Awards program. And by announcing the winners publicly, ARC also helps local governments in the 10-county area learn about new programs and exchange ideas that help them all succeed. ARC recognized the 2014 recipients at its February board meeting on February 26.
“Our hard-working local governments are always looking for innovative ways to solve problems and create new opportunities for improvement. Without that, the Atlanta region would be just another metropolitan area,” said Doug Hooker, ARC executive director. “But because of their efforts, our region is a place that continues to grow, evolve and improve itself. It’s no coincidence that metro Atlanta was one of the fastest growing regions in the nation during the last decade.”
The CREATE awards recognize six areas for innovation: Arts & Culture (City of Suwanee); Community Involvement & Collaboration (City of Marietta), Educational Excellence (City of Riverdale), Environmental Sustainability (City of Sandy Springs), Regional Prosperity & Economic Development (Fayette County & City of Fayetteville), Technology (Gwinnett County). ARC’s 2014 CREATE Community winners are:
Arts & Culture
AWARD WINNER – City of Suwanee Public Arts Initiative
For the last six years, Suwanee has successfully used public art to distinguish itself from other suburban communities. Through a Public Arts Commission (PAC) and the help of private donors, the city has acquired nearly a dozen permanent pieces of public art, and almost all new developments in the last five years have purchased art for display or have contributed to the PAC. The PAC’s goals are to encourage new developments to commit one percent of construction costs to public art; expand support of public arts initiatives through partnerships and patrons who actively support the arts; integrate public art into the city’s larger vision; and enhance the brand of key city areas and entries through public art.
Community Involvement & Collaboration:
AWARD WINNER – City of Marietta in partnership with Youth Empowerment through Learning, Leading and Serving (YELLS)
The City of Marietta’s Youth Empowerment through Learning, Leading and Serving (also known as the YELLS program) recognizes the power of youth service to affect the lives of those serving and those being served. YELLS offers three innovative youth programs: YELLS Mentoring, the YELLS Afterschool Program and the YELLS Community Action Café and Teen Center, which engages teens in academics, financial literacy and career and leadership development experiences, while they lead community initiatives and manage and operate a café-style business.
The YELLS program objectives are to:
- Empower youth to be active, healthy and productive servant-leaders within their communities
- Support and equip youth to achieve academic excellence and build strong personal character and
- Equip youth and their families with the tools to elevate their lives through education, financial empowerment and community involvement
AWARD WINNER – The City of Riverdale’s Annual Preparation Spelling Bee
The City of Riverdale’s Annual Preparation Spelling Bee encourages and challenges students in a competitive setting to prepare them for the District Preparation Spelling Bee. With 75 participants, the Bee demonstrates Riverdale’s strong relationship with the community and its education partners. The Bee is sponsored by Councilwoman Cynthia Stamps-Jones, with the support of Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon and councilmembers Wanda Wallace and An’cel Davis. The Clayton County Rotary Club donated more than 100 dictionaries so that each participant could go home with one.
AWARD WINNER – Sandy Springs Fuel Conversion Program
Using the city’s “Innovations Fund,” to leverage grant funds, Sandy Springs is in the process of converting public safety vehicles to operate on propane autogas, a low-pressure system that enhances safety for first responders and improved performance. The ability to maintain two-week fuel supplies increases the level of emergency preparedness too. To date, the city has converted 55 vehicles, resulting in the displacement of 87.94 tons of emissions and $56,456 in cost savings compared to gasoline. The city has also installed solar panels on its fire stations, reducing the amount of natural gas used at the two stations by 27 percent, a cost savings of $23,158. The city has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels, preparing it for the future, saving money and reducing emissions.
Regional Prosperity & Economic Development:
AWARD WINNER – Fayette County and City of Fayetteville Economic Development Alliance
Looking to help pull their local economy out of the recession a little faster, Fayette County and Fayetteville used memoranda of understanding to allow their economic development agencies to work together across jurisdictional lines in an unparalleled “commitment-to-build” process with near seamless cooperation. Without this process, the area could not have promised and succeeded in getting Pinewood Studios phase I built out in 10 months, opening the door to more than 3,000 jobs and a potential economic impact of more than $370 million per year. The alliance earned the 2013 Large Deal of the Year from the Georgia Economic Developers Association and, along with further collaborative efforts between the city, county, local businesses, the Fayette County Development Authority, the Fayette County Board of Education, Clayton State University and Southern Crescent Technical College has given the area a stellar reputation in the film industry and with state economic development officials.
AWARD WINNER – Gwinnett County Stormwater Strategic Asset Management Plan
In an attempt to prevent flooding and costly leaks, Gwinnett County has developed a proactive program for inspecting and maintaining its 1,336 miles of stormwater drainage pipes and 91,702 associated structures. Using established criteria for determining the likelihood and consequences of infrastructure failure, the county inspects the system and prioritizes repairs rather than simply reacting to emergency situations. This approach determines which critical pipes need annual inspection and enters defects into a database from which it can then generate work orders that address and prioritize the issues in a cost-efficient manner. Having begun the process in 2009, Gwinnett now has an accurate inventory of all stormwater facilities in the 351 square miles it manages. The county has reduced its backlog of complaint-related service requests.