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GreenLaw applauds Bulloch County judge’s decision on King American Finishing and the Ogeechee River

By Guest Columnist STEPHANIE STUCKEY BENFIELD, executive director of the GreenLaw, an entity that has been providing legal and technical assistance to Georgia’s environmental community since 1992

As the mother of two young children, I try to teach them a few basic life lessons. Treat others with honesty and respect. Tell the truth. Clean up after yourself.

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Atlanta’s higher education brand broader than just research universities

By Guest Columnist MIKE GERBER, president of Cross Channel Initiatives and former president of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education

The Metro Atlanta Chamber’s five year strategic plan, Forward Atlanta, places higher education front and center in the effort to make the metro region globally competitive.

For the most part, the focus is on research universities, which makes sense given those institutions’ educational and economic impacts.

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New “Forward Atlanta” plan looks backwards on water reservoirs

By Guest Columnist SALLY BETHEA, founding director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

What stimulated growth in the past no longer works in today’s regional economy. So said the Metro Atlanta Chamber as it recently announced a list of “five bold moves” in a new strategic economic plan entitled “Forward Atlanta.”

Yet, the plan’s single recommendation to solve the region’s ongoing water crisis is decidedly last-century, unsustainable and much too expensive in today’s economy – to build new dams and reservoirs.

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Preserving Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood against all odds

By Guest Columnist DR. LECONTÉ DILL, research instructor at the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, and former fellow with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute

Some people in Atlanta might not know much about the Pittsburgh neighborhood, nestled southwest of downtown.

Unfortunately, when Pittsburgh makes the news, it is often in a negative light, such as the sexual assaults of adolescent girls on the way to school in 2006 and 2011, and the hate crime and beating of Brandon White earlier this year.

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Best way to fight state’s foreclosure crisis is getting Georgians employed

By Guest Columnist CHRIS CUMMISKEY, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development

In her guest column of June 17, Kate Little, president of the Georgia State Trade Association of Nonprofit Developers, makes two points about the dispensation of National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) funds in Georgia: (1) that “none of these funds will go to address foreclosures,” and (2) that both “REBA and the OneGeorgia Authority will use the funds to attract jobs to rural Georgia,” allegedly slighting homeowners in Atlanta and Georgia’s other metro areas.

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Metro Atlanta will prosper if the region makes a commitment to equity for all

By Guest Columnist NATHANIEL Q. SMITH JR., founder and chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity

Metro Atlanta has a unique opportunity with the July 31st Transportation Improvement Act (TIA) referendum to make equity a priority when considering the long-lasting impacts this multi-billion dollar investment will have on our region.

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Georgia leaders bypass metro Atlanta with their allocation of $99 million in federal foreclosure funds

By Guest Columnist KATE LITTLE, president of the Georgia State Trade Association of Nonprofit Developers

In February of this year, the federal government and 49 of the 50 state attorneys general announced that they had reached a settlement regarding foreclosure fraud with the nation’s five major financial institutions: Ally Bank, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo.

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It’s time to put solar to work in Georgia

By Guest Columnist RHONE RESCH, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

The numbers don’t lie – 2011 was a banner year for solar energy in America as consumers saw the cost of installing solar drop by 20 percent in just a single year.

The U.S. solar energy industry installed a record 1,855 megawatts of new solar capacity last year, more than doubling the previous record set in 2010. In the fourth quarter alone, the industry installed 755 megawatts of new capacity – more than the solar installation totals for the full years of 2008 and 2009 combined.

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Wireside chats hope to inform metro Atlantans on transportation solutions

By Guest Columnist TAD LEITHEAD, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission

Some 70 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt gave what was later termed the “Map Speech” – one of his many “fireside chats” with Americans throughout World War II.

In anticipation of this particular radio address, he asked Americans to buy world maps. The response was overwhelming. Millions of citizens listened to the President’s address on February 23rd, 1942, where he detailed the progress of the wars, both in Europe and the Pacific, while folks at home used their maps to follow along.

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Atlanta’s arts community at a crossroads — is the curtain closing?

By Guest Columnist W. IMARA CANADY, vice president of programming and strategic partnerships for National Center for Civil and Human Rights

As thousands recently gathered to officially open the doors of our airports new Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. International terminal, an opening day that will further brand Atlanta as the world’s “Gateway to the South,” I can’t help but reflect on the many facets of the legacy of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Holbrook Jackson.

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What’s ailing our food system can be partly fixed with locally-grown food

By Guest Columnist DANIEL BACKHAUS, chief marketing officee of Atlanta-based PodPonics

When it comes to food in America, we face a Dickensian dichotomy. Parts of our population enjoy abundance and an unprecedented variety of food choices, while others live in so-called food deserts with no easy access to fresh, wholesome food at all.

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Disparities between urban and rural healthcare need to be overcome

By Guest Columnist MATT CASEMAN, executive director of Georgia Rural Health Association, which is based in Sandersville

These are the facts:

* If you suffer a traumatic injury in rural Georgia as opposed to a metropolitan area, you are more likely to die.

* Seven counties in Georgia do not have a family physician; 65 counties do not have a pediatrician; 67 counties do not have a general surgeon; 68 counties do not have an OB/GYN; and 115 counties do not have a neurologist.

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Coalition seeking to soften blow of metro Atlanta’s foreclosure crisis

By Guest Columnist JOHN O’CALLAGHAN, president and CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc.

Metro Atlanta is reeling from five years of record foreclosure filings. Home sales have fallen to 1996 levels – the biggest decline in the country. Once-strong communities are riddled by blight associated with the pile-up of vacant homes.

Since 2006, metro Atlanta (10-county) has experienced nearly 530,000 foreclosure filings, has seen a 37 percent drop in home prices, and has lost 51,600 jobs in construction.

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Micro-lender contributing to economic rebound a loan at a time

By Guest Columnist GRACE FRICKS, founder and CEO of the non-profit Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs

Small business is the backbone of the economy; the engine for economic recovery.

You won’t find a politician, a pundit or an economist who will disagree with that statement. But by 2008, with our economy in full slide, most lenders tightened the purse strings to the extent that a significant population of small business owners – those defined as microentrepreneurs – couldn’t get access to the money they needed to create or maintain their enterprise.

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Mentor Protégé program is a ‘head start’ for small business in Georgia

By Guest Columnist STACEY J. KEY, president and CEO of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council

Getting a small business off the ground can prove to be a daunting task. In fact, the vast majority of new businesses fail within the first few years.

The Georgia Mentor Protégé Connection (MPC) is an innovative business development initiative

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Citizens should take advantage of planning rules of public engagement

By Guest Columnist DENISE STARLING, executive director of Livable Buckhead Inc.

Imagine you’re getting ready to enjoy dinner at a top-notch restaurant for a special occasion. You’ve been looking forward to eating there for years, envisioning the delicious dishes that await you. When the evening finally arrives, you take your seat at the table, look over the menu and tell the waiter, “Just let the chef decide what we’ll have tonight.”

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Auburn Avenue community stands ready to help developer renovate historic buildings

By Guest Columnist MATTHEW GARBETT, president of Fourth Ward Neighbors

In 1976, Sweet Auburn was designated a National Historic District. Yet the buildings came down.

By 1992, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized Sweet Auburn as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in America. And the buildings still came down.