Like every year, metro Atlanta has seen its share of highs and lows. From hosting globally recognized events to doubling down on addressing ills like affordable housing, what is certain is that there is shared energy towards an Atlanta that remains competitive on the world stage and an exciting place to raise families. Here are some of the highlights we captured in The Atlanta Voice.

KEMP TAKES OFFICE
On Monday, Jan. 14, inside McCamish Pavilion at the Georgia Tech Campus, Brian P. Kemp took the oath and formally became the 83rd Governor of Georgia. In his first address as governor, Kemp pledged to maintain the business-friendly policies Nathan Deal has in place. “With our low taxes, a business-friendly government, and access to logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and the Atlanta Airport, Georgia is the epicenter of job growth, the Hollywood of the South, and soon to be the Cyber Capital of the world,” Kemp said.

ONE SUPER WEEKEND
Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium entered the world stage when it hosted Super Bowl LIII, which featured the New England Patriots battling against the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3. The Metro Chamber of Commerce estimated that nearly $400 million was spent during the Super Bowl weekend, though many economists expect the economic impact to last for years to come.

AIRPORT LEGISLATION GROUNDED
In early April, Senate Bill 131 (SB 131) — legislation that would have sought to create a state authority to oversee the City of Atlanta-controlled Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — fails to make it out of the Georgia House of Representatives. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Atlanta City Council and John Selden, the general manager of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, all publicly opposed the legislation, which they said seemed to be “nothing more than a ploy to legally wrestle away the city’s asset.”

BOTTOMS’ BIG DAY
On March 14, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered her second “State of the City” address at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. In the address, the mayor announced plans to establish Atlanta’s first dedicated Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the safety and accessibility of city streets and bring new vision and leadership to meet the increasing demands of Atlanta’s growing population. 

DREAMS IN TECHNICOLOR
Thirteen distinguished Atlanta-area high school students—ages 13 to 19—were selected to participate in the prestigious Disney Dreamers Academy March 21-24. Selected among 100 students from across the nation, the Atlanta Dreamers were immersed in a weekend program designed to empower, excite and inspire them to go after their dreams

$60 MILLION FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a joint initiative between the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, and the Atlanta Housing Authority to finance new affordable housing units and preserve existing affordable housing units on April 25. “In partnership with Atlanta Housing, we are one step closer to achieving our goal of $1 billion towards affordable housing in the city, by announcing today $60 million dollars towards affordable housing in the city of Atlanta,” Bottoms said.

BILLIONAIRE ‘MAKES IT RAIN’
Robert F. Smith, the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, made huge waves when he pledged to eliminate the debts of Morehouse College’s Class of 2019 during a commencement speech he gave on May 19. The gift, which is totaled around $34 million, has been used to create a new Morehouse College Student Success Program to pay off the loans that students and parents of the Class of 2019 accumulated during their matriculation.

MORE ACTION ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
On June 24, Bottoms released the City of Atlanta’s Housing Affordability Action Plan – the first-ever such document to address the City’s supply of housing in the City of Atlanta for a full spectrum of its residents. The Plan represents a collaborative and shared effort from multiple City agencies and a diverse group of nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, private companies, residents, and community members who came together under the banner of House ATL to develop recommendations that are critical to the future of housing in Atlanta.

AN INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP
On Aug. 15, Bottoms and Atlanta Technical College President Victoria Seals officially launched a 200-student pilot program for the campus’s new The Center for Workforce Innovation. The Center for Workforce Innovation, which is housed at Atlanta Technical College, was established in November 2018 through a public-private partnership with the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Committee for Progress and Atlanta Technical College.

NEW HOUSING LEADERSHIP
The Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Eugene Jones Jr. as its new president and CEO on Sept. 10, during a special session. Jones comes to the Atlanta Housing Authority after serving as the president and CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority since 2015, which is considered the second-largest housing authority in the nation. Jones began his term on Oct. 7.

(Photo: Tyla Barnes/The Atlanta Voice)

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