North Fulton leaders visit North Carolina to see economic development strategies up-close

Credit: Courtesy Facebook

Credit: Courtesy Facebook

The mayors of Alpharetta, Johns Creek and Milton were among a group of 30 government and business leaders who traveled to communities in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina to see how they manage and attract economic development.

The Greater North Fulton Chamber led the April trip to Raleigh, Cary, and Research Triangle Park, a 7,000-acre site that is home to more than 300 companies.

Alpharetta Mayor Jim Gilvin said the trip was an opportunity to see how communities similar to north Fulton collaborate and address workforce needs that arise with business development, including transportation and housing.

“There are several counties up in that corridor that work together well,” Gilvin said. “North Fulton has a tremendous reputation around the world, but we really haven’t done a good job of collaborating and marketing it as a region. (We do that) as individual cities.”

Kali Boatright, president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber, said north Fulton cities compete with the Raleigh, Cary and Research Triangle Park for economic development.

“…We want to be on top of our game,” Boatright said of north Fulton.

North Carolina planners have visited Alpharetta in the past. Cary city planners visited Alpharetta in 2017 before approving Fenton, a $1 billion mixed-used shopping development that’s similar to Avalon. The city planners returned in 2019.

Parks and sports venues are an economic development asset in Cary, Boatright added.

And Boxyard, an expanding amenity at Research Technology Park, features restaurants and retail shops inside old box cars, she said.

The chamber’s second annual strategic leadership trip included State Sen. Brandon Beach, Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis as well as Johns Creek Mayor John Bradberry and Milton Mayor Peyton Jamison.

They were joined by business leaders from Roswell and MARTA, as well Dr. Glen Cannon, president of Gwinnett Technical College, Boatright said.

Last year, the chamber took businesses leaders to Fresno and Plano Texas. Boatright said the overall goal of the strategic trips is to inform.

“We don’t predetermine what (insight) they need to leave with,” she said. “It was more of: ‘Here’s a region that we might be informed by or want to emulate.’”