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Deepening the Savannah port and other U.S. ports may not be in best interest of taxpayers

By Guest Columnist STEVE WILLIS, vice chair of the Sierra Club Georgia Chapter

Panama Canal Authority CEO Alberto Aleman Zubieta’s recent East Coast harbor deepening promotional tour raises more questions than answers.

While Aleman Zubieta scrupulously avoided openly advocating for the deepening of any one U.S. port in preference to another, on this recent tour he unequivocally pitched deepening as many East Coast ports as possible, as soon as possible.

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Solar power bill would give Georgians more choices

By Guest Columnist JOHN SIBLEY, senior policy fellow at Southface Energy Institute and former president of the Georgia Conservancy

Have you gotten used to thinking you have no choice on your power bill? We can’t choose our power company, so most of us pay the bill without looking past the total amount due – without even thinking about the amount paid for each kilowatt-hour or whether we have better choices.

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The Atlanta region is adrift without an elected captain

By Guest Columnist JERE WOOD, mayor of the City of Roswell

Metro Atlanta needs more than a one-cent transportation sales tax to recover from the recession and regain its position in a competitive world. We need to work together as a region, not independently, to meet our transportation, water and other regional challenges.

To act as a unified region, we need leaders with the authority to speak for the region.

Who has the authority to speak for metro Atlanta?

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Transportation referendum a defining moment for Atlanta

By Guest Columnist BRUCE GUNTER, president of Progressive Redevelopment Inc.

It is no hyperbole to state that the upcoming transportation referendum in July this year is a momentous opportunity for Atlantans.

It is on par, as many have suggested, with the 1996 Olympics that thrust Atlanta into the ranks of global cities or the expansion of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that had such a high economic impact and spawned valuable global connections.

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Solar power industry grows in Georgia — creating jobs in green emerging industry

By Guest Columnist DEBBIE DAY, executive director of the Georgia Solar Energy Association

Taking the reins of the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) is an exciting opportunity. My recent arrival coincides with the results of GSEA’s effort to amass a comprehensive snapshot of solar development so far in Georgia.  The picture it creates is impressive.

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Georgia can lead the way to a healthier future with low-speed electric vehicles

By Guest Columnist BOB MUNGER, president of the Augusta Greenway Alliance, Inc.

Georgia is a global leader in production of low-speed electric vehicles — such as golf cars and other personal transit vehicles (PTVs).

Since the production of those vehicles are such an important part of our economy, shouldn’t the State of Georgia also be a leader in the use of these vehicles?

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Dysfunction in Washington D.C. damages U.S. image abroad and morale at home

By Guest Columnist DARAKA SATCHER, partner and chief operating officer at Pendleton Consulting Group

I arrived in Washington, D.C. after graduating from Emory Law School in 1999 full of excitement and energy. I began working on Capitol Hill almost immediately and had a front row seat to history-in-the-making working for members of Congress like John Spratt, Harold Ford Jr, and Hank Johnson.

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Occupy movement provides a fertile ground for new ideas and entrepreneurship

By Guest Columnist GEORGE CHIDI, councilman for Pine Lake, managing director of the strategic and competitive intelligence consultancy Neon Flag, and a supporter of Occupy Atlanta

Newt Gingrich, that noted exemplar of moral integrity and sober discourse, neatly encapsulated the vapid conservative dismissal of the Occupy protests with a few comments at an Iowa family values forum in November.

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‘Sustainability’ in metro Atlanta equals transit, parks, housing and walkable centers

By Guest Columnist RAY CHRISTMAN, senior vice president of the Mid South Division for the Trust for Public Land

We are only in 2012 but already a leading candidate has emerged as word of the decade: “sustainability.”

Everywhere one turns, one hears it. Virtually every company of any size has a corporate sustainability officer, whose job

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Atlanta’s quality of life to improve if we transform our ‘red fields’ into ‘green fields’

By Guest Columnist VAL PETERSON, first lady of Georgia Tech

Since coming to the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009, one thing I have learned is that the City of Atlanta has truly benefitted from projects created by our students, faculty and alumni. From our skyline to Atlantic Station to the Beltline, Atlanta would be a very different place without Georgia Tech.

A new project is being proposed by Mike Messner, a 1976 Civil Engineering graduate who grew up in Atlanta and still cares deeply about our city. In Mike’s mind there is far too much non-productive real estate and not enough green space in Atlanta.

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For Georgia to have a fair tax structure, income tax on the wealthiest should increase

By Guest Columnist ALAN ESSIG, executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Stop any Georgian on the street and ask if our state’s taxes should be “fair,” and the answer will almost surely be “yes.”

But what does fairness mean?

A good explanation is that you’re taxed according to your ability to pay — the more you make, the more you contribute. Public investments in education, roads and public safety are vital ingredients in the success of the wealthy.

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Midtown gathering explores what kind of experiences and places that people crave

By Guest Columnist KEVIN GREEN, president of the Midtown Alliance

For our annual meeting that we held on Dec. 14, we decided to take a different tact. Instead of focusing mainly on traditional subjects like capital projects and programs or new development currently breaking ground in Midtown, we focused instead on what we were all working to achieve: a great place where people want to be.

This requires a level of inquiry that goes beyond the physical assets we normally use to describe a place such as location, urban design, transportation, institutions and economic anchors.

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Metro Atlanta’s toll lanes are not part of the solution; they are part of the problem

By Guest Columnist BRIAN GIST, a senior attorney and transportation specialist for the Southern Environmental Law Center

Since they opened this October, the public’s response to the high-occupancy toll lanes on I-85 has been pervasive, vocal and angry.

Commuters complain that the lanes are expensive for those choosing to use them and that they have worsened driving conditions for those who choose not to use them.

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Unfortunately Southern white Democrats are becoming an endangered political species

By Guest Columnist VERNON JONES, former CEO of DeKalb County

As a young state representative in the Georgia General Assembly, I predicted white Democrats would become an endangered species in the South.

In 1991 when re-apportionment occurred in Georgia and other Southern states, there was a major push to have more seats created for African-Americans in local, state and congressional districts.

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Rainwater harvesting can help strengthen Georgia’s economy

By Guest Columnist BOB DREW, founder of EcoVie Environmental and chairman of Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association (SERHSA) and a board member of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA)

After a summer of drought conditions in Middle and South Georgia, water levels in Lake Lanier are now close to the record lows established in the drought of 2007-2008.

USA Today reported on Nov. 11 that drought conditions throughout the South and Midwest have inflicted more than $10 billion in economic losses to the U.S. economy, a number projected to rise if dry conditions persist through the winter months as expected.

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The challenge is on to make Atlanta more energy efficient

By Guest Columnist MICHAEL NARK, CEO of Atlanta-based Prenova, a privately held enterprise energy management company

Have you heard of the Better Buildings Challenge? It’s a national campaign that was launched by President Obama in February to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

The goal is to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020 through issuing a series of incentives for upgrading offices. President Obama believes this initiative will create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and make our air cleaner. But perhaps most importantly for the business sector, it will save money – an

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Bringing food trucks and fresh vegetables to communities good for Atlanta families

By Guest Columnist KWANZA HALL, Atlanta City Councilman — District 2

Atlanta’s street food movement is gaining traction. Positive media coverage, support from private land owners, legislative solutions from the Atlanta City Council, and imaginative cooking have combined to make 2011 the Year of the Food Truck.

We still have work to do to make it easier for food trucks to operate. The permitting process can seem mysterious and subjective. Existing city contracts limit our ability to open streets and sidewalks to this new group of mobile entrepreneurs.

All in all, though, we are moving in the right direction.

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A multi-state regional approach is necessary to wisely invest in our ports

By Guest Columnist DAVID KYLER, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast in Saint Simons Island

Much has been asserted about the economic benefit of deepening Savannah’s harbor – some of it highly speculative and contradicting official analysis by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

One thing is certain: the project’s price tag of $625 million is no chump change in today’s budgeting world. Given the political emphasis on responsible government spending and anticipated cuts in a host of federal and state programs, objective assessment must outweigh wishful thinking in public discourse and related government

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RedPrairie finds Georgia as a welcome place for business

By Guest Columnist MIKE MAYORAS, CEO of RedPrairie, a global supply chain and retail technology provider based in Alpharetta

In a recent column, Tino Mantella, the president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), provided some thoughtful insight on steps Georgia should take to make the rest of the country and world aware of Georgia’s dynamic and growing business environment.

He challenged us to share what we value about working and conducting business in Georgia, so that companies and professionals around the world would have a better understanding of what Georgia can offer.

In that spirit, here are a few reasons that I personally, and RedPrairie, the company I work for, appreciate the opportunity to be based in this market.