Atlanta Beltline names Higgs as president, CEO

Clyde Higgs has been named president and CEO of Atlanta Beltline, Inc. after serving six months in an interim capacity.

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Clyde Higgs has been named president and CEO of Atlanta Beltline, Inc. after serving six months in an interim capacity.

The man who has been leading the Atlanta Beltline for the last six months has been tapped to serve in that position on a permanent basis.

Clyde Higgs was appointed by the group’s Board of Directors on Feb. 13 to serve as president and CEO. Higgs was chosen for the position months after Atlanta Beltline launched a national search to find a new leader.  Higgs told the AJC that he’s “humbled” by the appointment, as he will be at the helm of a project that is a key part of Atlanta’s history.

John Somerhalder, chairman of the Atlanta Beltline Board of Directors, said Higgs was able to carry out his duties as interim CEO while juggling his existing responsibilities as chief operating officer.

Higgs was named interim CEO in August 2018 following the departure of Brian McGowan, who accepted a job as CEO of Greater Seattle Partners.

Somerhalder said the Atlanta Beltline paid BrightWell Talent to conduct a national search for a new CEO. The search yielded about 100 candidates who were considered for the position.  Somerhalder said the total cost of the search contract was about $65,000, but BrightWell offered to reduce that fee if Higgs were offered the job.

“We’re extremely proud to have Clyde, and Clyde has just demonstrated strong performance and we are very happy with where it ended up, too,” he said.

Higgs told the AJC that his plate is loaded with projects Atlanta Beltline leaders have wanted to move forward over the last six months. The Beltline is one of the city’s most popular amenities and has been a boon for development along the 22-mile loop of trails that connect neighborhoods in the city.

The new CEO also said there is a perception that the Atlanta Beltline is rolling in dough when it comes to funding the projects it has down the pipeline. However, Higgs said the 2008 recession put the brakes on what the organization had in store.

“We have to be very creative moving forward to figure out some other creative funding mechanisms to catch up,” he said. Since the Beltline is destined to be completed by 2030, finding those alternative funding sources will be key in keeping the building on track, the CEO said.

Turning dirt on projects such as 5,600 planned affordable housing units and adding in transit pieces, will show the organization is committed to jump-starting economic development along the Beltline. Higgs said the work will bring 30,000 permanent jobs and 48,000 temporary construction jobs along the loop.

Before he joined Atlanta Beltline in 2015, Higgs was executive vice president for a multi-billion dollar development initiative undertaken by North Carolina and Castle & Cooke, a real estate firm.

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