DETROIT — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Monday cities are driving the success of the U.S. economy and that he hopes the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump will be a friend rather than foe of metropolitan areas.
“The real question is whether they (the Trump administration) are going to allow us to continue to lead and drive the economy and GDP or whether they ware going to interfere,” Reed said during a symposium on transportation solutions sponsored by car manufacturing giant Ford and the New York Times.
In the wide-ranging discussion — which included mayors Rahm Emanel of Chicago, Mike Duggan of Detroit and Andrew Ginther of Columbus, Ohio, all Democrats — Reed said in-migration from the suburbs to cities from both residents and businesses has put metropolitan areas in the driver’s seat on the economy.
In Atlanta, that in-migration has meant the relocation of NCR Corp.’s headquarters into Midtown from Gwinnett County and thousands of millennials who have chosen to live in the city rather than the suburbs.
Ford invited Reed and the other mayors to Detroit to talk about transportation solutions, including ideas on public transportation, alternatives such as bicycling and better commuting strategies for cars. Ford said it has created a “solutions team” that is in discussions “with municipalities to propose, pilot and develop mobility solutions tailored to the community.”
Reed said officials and metro residents recognize that building more highways is not the solution to Atlanta’s traffic woes, which are some of the worst in the nation. Millennials and many businesses want to be in cities because they want transportation alternatives to sitting in hours of traffic.
While Atlanta is far from solving its congestion problems, it is moving in the right direction, Reed said. The recent passage of two transportation referendums in the city of Atlanta in November that will expand MARTA and spend another $300 million on infrastructure improvements suggests residents understand the need for change, he said.
The business community also has helped usher in the change, he said. Pulte Homes Group relocated to Atlanta to be near transit and State Farm recently completed a new corporate campus on MARTA’s north line.
“I think the most important referee has been the business community,” he said. “It is helping to depoliticize transit in a conservative state.”
When Columbus Mayor Ginther said during the discussion that the mayors could help Trump evolve on matters important to cities, Reed laughed, saying, “I gotta get some of that Columbus air.”
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