South Fulton Taps BAE for Economic Development Strategic Plan

At the end of March, South Fulton’s city council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with BAE Urban Economics. The firm has been tapped to prepare the city’s economic development strategic plan.

“I am excited about the council’s decision,” said Odie Donald II, city manager. “This allows the city to engage with qualified experts who can assist us in developing a comprehensive strategic plan that will result in the development of a strong economic base for our city and a diversified economy.”

BAE is a national real estate and urban economics consulting firm with offices in California, New York and Washington, D.C. Among its past projects are an economic revitalization strategy for Richmond, Va. and a five-year work plan review and recommendations for Atlanta Beltline, Inc.

The plan that BAE will create for the City of South Fulton will provide specific guidance to help expand South Fulton’s economic base and enhance residents’ quality of life. The plan is expected to encourage entrepreneurship and attract high-paying jobs. 

The firm’s scope of work includes: performing a thorough assessment of the city’s current economic position through informational meetings with staff, residents and key stakeholders; review of past and current economic development programs; and collection of demographic, economic and real estate data. The assessment will also include a review of the economic development performance of competitive communities compared to that of the City of South Fulton.

Upon completion of the economic development strategic plan, BAE will provide its findings to city staff, an established steering committee and small focus group sessions comprised of business leaders, economic development partners and residents.  

“As a new city, having a strategic plan dedicated to economic development is vitally important to the success of our community for the next fifteen to twenty years,” stated Christopher Pike, economic development administrator. “We look forward to engaging City of South Fulton residents in the development of a shared community vision for the city.”

There’s been significant buzz about economic development in South Fulton in recent weeks. On April 23, the council voted on a resolution to activate a downtown development authority (DDA) in the Old National area and approve its funding in the amount of $50,000. The council voted against the measure, four to three. 

DDAs are used in cities throughout the state as a mechanism to revitalize and redevelop municipal central business districts. DDAs, which are comprised of seven directors, can apply for grants and loans, acquire and improve property, enter into contracts and IGAs and issue revenue bonds. More than 140 DDAs have been registered in Georgia, however many have never been activated.  

The city’s economic development administrator had previously recommended the Georgia Main Street Program for the Old National area. The program provides resources and technical assistance to cities.

Over 100 cities have participated in the program which has attracted over $500 million in private and public investment. In 2018, the program helped to create 3,059 jobs and completed 657 building rehabilitation projects. Nearby cities that have participated are Fayetteville, Douglasville, East Point and Hapeville. 

Typically, cities in the Georgia Main Street Program have a population of less than 50,000. However, support is available for larger cities via a separate program called the Urban Georgia Network. 

The economic development administrator is scheduled to address Old National residents tonight at the “A Year at a Glance” townhall meeting hosted by Councilmembers Rosie Jackson, khalid kamau and Mayor Pro Tem Mark Baker. The event will take place at World Changers Church International’s Youth Building (2500 Burdett Road) at 6:30 p.m. 

Photo: Christopher Pike, South Fulton’s economic development administrator, makes a presentation to local business and real estate leaders during the District 1 economic development tour. 

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