Celebrating 40 Years of Transformation, Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting Looks Onward
More than 1,000 business and civic leaders, residents and partners gathered at the historic Fox Theatre for the Midtown Alliance 2018 annual meeting. The event featured new leadership that will continue the march toward making Atlanta a world-class city, Midtown's newest corporate neighbor and a thought leader with a proven track record of changing the way cities think about and use one of their most vital assets: city streets.
New Midtown Alliance Board Chair Shares Personal Story of Why Midtown
"It was only due to the hard work of so many people that Midtown has become the jewel of the South," said Midtown Alliance Board Chair Mark Toro in his opening remarks. Toro shared his personal story about how he and his wife moved to Midtown from the suburbs in search of an authentic urban lifestyle, and how so many others have followed. Why? “Because the energy, mobility and diversity of experiences … is now being delivered like never before,” said Toro. “This is my Midtown, and this is your Midtown. Go out and tell your Midtown story, and join us in looking onward to make Midtown the region’s premier urban experience.”
Atlanta’s New Mayor Discusses the Increasing Importance of Cities
Atlanta's 60th Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is the 6th Atlanta mayor to work with Midtown Alliance over the 40-year relationship that has existed with City of Atlanta leadership. Mayor Bottoms addressed the crowd of some 1,000 people and spoke about the role of cities, and how they are taking on increasing importance based on current climate at the federal level. Atlanta's sustainability initiatives and economic development strategies are being held up nationally as best practices. Still, the Mayor noted, more work remains to be done on equity issues, including affordable housing. ”We are an Atlanta that represents the best of what we can all hope to be as a city," the Mayor said.
Midtown Atlanta Welcomes Its Newest Corporate Neighbor
NCR powers more than 700M financial transactions each day. Chief Human Resources Officer Andrea Ledford spoke about the impetus for landing the company’s new global headquarters in the heart of it all. “Our goal is to create the Silicon Valley of the East,” said Ledford. “We wanted to create an incredible campus, an exciting place.” NCR’s brand new work environment features collaboration space, fitness facilities, demo labs and more. Ledford also described how NCR has a track record of charitable giving in Atlanta, donating some $7M to nonprofits working on issues that range from equity in technology to business skills development. View this video from NCR about their history as an innovator:
Midtown’s Imperative: Happy People on Foot
Midtown Alliance President and CEO Kevin Green discussed current imperatives for Midtown amid an era of profound growth that has ushered in 5K new jobs announced for the district in the past 12 months and 30+ major development projects under construction or having cleared the development review process. More than two dozen projects that support walkability and bikeability are advancing to various stages of planning, engineering or construction in a square mile. “We’ve got to get it right for our community, to ensure that as we grow, Midtown gets better, and on every dimension,” said Green. “Because Midtown should be nothing short of exceptional. Every building, every street, every experience, and we should accept nothing less.”
Keynote speaker Janette Sadik-Khan challenged attendees to think about the function of streets, and how they can do more for a city than just move cars. “There are all sorts of ways streets want to be used, and all sorts of signs that point to the ways people fall through the cracks,” she said, citing the broader need to update the outmoded design philosophy for streets at the federal level that has existed for 60 years. New interventions and data-driven approaches to measuring the conditions of a successful street - including safety initiatives like Vision Zero - are guiding transportation investment in cities across the globe. “No one has a patent on pavement,” said Sadik-Khan. “When you see something that works in another city, grab it, try it out, see if it works on your street.”
Beyond infrastructure, she pointed to projects ranging from public art to parklets and street festivals as a way to change streets and make them more accommodating for people. “Atlanta has shown what’s possible if you use your capital assets differently,” said Sadik-Khan, noting projects including the 10th Street cycletrack. “It’s not a question of engineering, it’s a question of imagination. We know it’s a fight to make space for people. It’s a street fight. But it’s a fight we can win. We must win. Because when you change the street, you change the world.”
Special thanks to the Midtown Alliance 2018 Annual Meeting sponsors that made this event possible.
Gold sponsors: Affairs to Remember, Alston + Bird, Anthem IT, The Coca-Cola Company, Columbia Property Trust, Creative Approach, Emory University Hospital - Midtown, First Landmark Bank, The Fox Theatre , Franklin Street Properties, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Power, Greystar, JLL, Jones Day, Kimley-Horn, King & Spalding, NCR, North American Properties, Northside Hospital, Perkins + Will, PNC, Portman Holdings, Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, Selig Development, Seyfarth Shaw, Silverman Construction Program Management, Smith & Howard, Son & Sons
Silver sponsors: Astra Group, Colliers, Cousins Properties, Cushman & Wakefield, Eversheds Sutherland LLP, Gensler, The Georgian Terrace, IDI Logistics, Jacobs, Lord Aeck Sargent, Publix, Regions Bank, Spectrum on Spring, tvsdesign
Bronze sponsors: ABM Industries, Bleakly Advisory Group, Inc. , CBRE | Heery, Chattahoochee Group, Inc., Equifax, Fisher Phillips, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Loews Atlanta Hotel, Lyft, Morris, Manning, & Martin, NELSON, Novare Group, SCAD, SunTrust Bank, Troutman Sanders, TSW, Winter Construction