Collaborate to Compete

The mantra for the 21st century is “Collaborate to compete.” While we work at the local level to safeguard the identities of the communities we love, we must also work together to find innovative ways of managing with less funding, more demand and a changing population. And, we must capitalize on opportunities for collaboration this century offers.

With 55 percent of the state’s population and 70 percent of its economy, metropolitan Atlanta is the economic engine that powers the state. And, our reach extends far beyond Georgia. Technology, the Georgia ports and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect the region to the world, helping make us a competitor on the world stage.

Success depends on leveraging our assets and working collaboratively, and we have many past examples to point to. Collaboration brought the 1996 Olympic Games to the region. For more than 20 years, local governments and water utilities have worked together to defend the region’s rights in the tri-state water disputes. The Innovation Crescent brings local governments, development authorities, chambers of commerce, businesses and others together to market the region as a hub for the life sciences industry.

There is almost universal agreement that the airport is the region’s most important asset. Both the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Plan 2040 and the Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy, which involved hundreds of individuals from every county, emphasize the need to leverage the economic resources surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson. To that end, area stakeholders are working together to create the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance to promote the area as a great place to live or to locate a business.

Beyond transportation and water, our biggest challenges include educating our young people for today’s post-industrial economy, creating vibrant communities that attract the talent businesses need and preparing for a more diverse and older citizenry. Successful solutions depend on local governments, businesses, economic development professionals, educators and nonprofits working with each other and with engaged residents of the region to ensure metro Atlanta’s future is even brighter than it has ever been.

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