Effective economic strategy is crucial

By Yvonne Williams

When Perimeter business leaders developed the master plan in 2001 for a large office hub in the northern suburbs of Fulton County and unincorporated DeKalb County, they put Perimeter at the forefront of a fundamental change in the way we live, work and play in metro Atlanta.
Through the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs), these investors are developing a model community that demonstrates how to improve traffic and livability while strongly promoting economic development.
A Livable Centers Initiative grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to the PCIDs to develop Perimeter’s master plan was the starting point for change.
In the PCIDs’ conference room, a large “no walk” sign that once was used on Ashford Dunwoody Road reminds us of how far we have come in providing pedestrian access and connectivity throughout the area.
In fact, the PCIDs have attached walkability to every major transportation improvement they have implemented in Perimeter since the organization’s founding in 1999.
Today, Perimeter is a prime example of how the creation of a walkable urban place is the most effective economic development strategy that a CID, Atlanta and the region can pursue.
That was the conclusion of George Washington University professor Chris Leinberger’s recent study of regionally significant Walkable Urban Places (WalkUps) in Metro Atlanta.
The report, “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Atlanta,” named Perimeter at The Center as one of 27 WalkUPs in the region and one of only four “platinum” areas in an economic success ranking of those WalkUPS.
We also have promoted more housing near jobs and work to improve access to Perimeter’s three MARTA stations. The study found that 59 percent of the regionally significant WalkUPs have rail transit.
Companies choosing Perimeter cite the availability of public transit as critical for recruiting skilled, educated employees from throughout the metro area.
State Farm’s announcement that it is developing one of three national operations centers near the Dunwoody MARTA station places Perimeter in the category of a regional model for achieving economic outcomes through leadership in delivering infrastructure connectivity.
The takeaway from this study is that WalkUPs like “Perimeter at The Center” must continue to build walkable, connected, accessible communities to anticipate the needs of the workforce of the future.
The well-being of our residents and our economic success depend on it.

Yvonne Williams is President and CEO of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts

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