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ARC cancels 2020 LINK trip to Chicago

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Regional Commission has canceled its 2020 LINK trip to Chicago because of coronavirus-related health concerns.

The LINK trips have been an annual opportunity for more than 100 metro Atlanta leaders spend three days in a major North American city to learn how other communities are addressing urban issues, such as transportation, development, regional cooperation, equity, the arts and education.

Kerry Armstrong, who chairs ARC’s board, sent an email Wednesday to “regional parthers” who had been invited and registered to go on the 2020 LINK trip to the Chicago region.

Originally, the LINK trip had been scheduled for May 6 to May 9. But Armstrong sent out an email on March 20 saying the trip had been rescheduled for Aug. 19 to Aug. 22.

“Since that time, it has become clear to us that the public health concern and level of risk involved in such a trip are simply too great, even in August,” Armstrong wrote in the email. “Out of an abundance of caution and concern for everyone’s health, we will be canceling this year’s LINK trip. This is a difficult decision, as LINK always provides us with valuable lessons from other regions and chances to connect with colleagues.”

Original invite for the now-canceled 2020 LINK trip to Chicago (Special: Atlanta Regional Commission)

Armstrong went on to say that ARC will plan a LINK trip to the Chicago region in 2021– “most likely with an amended format.”

This is the first year since 1997 that there won’t be a LINK trip. LINK, which stands for Leadership, Innovation, Network, Knowledge, was launched to foster greater regional cooperation while having local leaders learn about best practices in other communities.

LINK already has been to Chicago once. That was in 2002 right after the election of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who was a regular attendee on the LINK trips. In Chicago, the delegation learned how a strong urban mayor could a regional leader by building relationships with the other mayors in the region.

When Franklin returned from Chicago, she started the Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association (MAMA), to foster closer ties with the other mayors in the region.

That is only one example of how the LINK trips have made an impact on the Atlanta region.

Here is a list of all the LINK trips plus the 20-year history (from 1997 to 2016) of the regional initiative. To read that history, click here: Link_20th_Anniversary_Book

List of Atlanta’s LINK trips:

1997: Denver
1998: Seattle
1999: Dallas
2000: Cleveland
2001: San Diego
2002: Chicago
2003: San Francisco
2004: Boston
2005: Portland, Oregon
2006: Miami
2007: Vancouver
2008: Denver
2009: Minneapolis-St. Paul
2010: Phoenix
2011: Seattle
2012: Washington, D.C.
2013: Houston
2014: Philadelphia
2015: Toronto
2016: Dallas
2017: Detroit
2018: San Diego
2019: Pittsburgh

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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