Economic Development Council Talks Vision for Midtown
By Metro Atlanta Chamber
Atlanta never stops rising. From the thriving business ecosystem to the ever-evolving and diverse neighborhoods, Atlanta remains a top destination for innovation, economic development and emerging talent.
In November, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Economic Development Council gathered to discuss recent developments in the growing Midtown neighborhood. The council hosted executives with several of the leading organizations responsible for Midtown’s continued success and expansion.
During the event, the Metro Atlanta Chamber recognized the service of 2019 Chair John O’Neill and council meeting host Cushman & Wakefield.
Mark Toro, partner at North American Properties, opened the conversation with his thoughts on what makes Midtown so special to visitors and locals alike.
“Midtown is winning today because of the ingredients in our secret sauce: transit, cultural assets, walkability, greenspace and a lifestyle that cannot be replicated,” Toro said.
Midtown has a reputation for attracting visionary talent. According to Kevin Green, president and CEO of Midtown Alliance, “Midtown has benefitted from really thoughtful leadership for 40+ years now,” which has helped position the area as the walkable, diverse, urban core it is today.
As new generations emerge and the Atlanta population continues to grow, companies are paying attention. Lawrence Gellerstedt, vice president of WeWork, is making sure his company is at the forefront. With its Southeast headquarters located in Midtown, Lawrence and his team are laser-focused on the future.
“We’re focused on what the future generation is going to want. Things that are prioritized in Midtown [like bike lanes and scooter safety] have created a community that the workers of tomorrow are going to want,” Gellerstedt said.
Due, in part, to Midtown’s intentionality and focus on catering to the next generation, the region has seen an influx of talent to colleges, universities and companies. Ambrish Baisiwala, CEO of Portman Holdings, shared insights with the group regarding corporate relocations and a booming talent pool.
“Atlanta is on the cusp of an explosion,” Baisiwala said, and it’s because of the collaborative effort to make Midtown an exceptional place to be.
Kevin Green of the Midtown Alliance summed up the neighborhood best: “happy people on foot.” With a walk score of 89 (out of 90), Midtown prides itself on being well-connected.
“Almost everything is within walking distance of rail transit. A city that is a great city provides great choices,” Green said.
Midtown is more than the sum of its parts. From Toro’s perspective, it’s about the space between the buildings.
“We wanted to create a public realm that can be activated to draw people into the property. The thing that draws people is people,” Toro shared.
While the efforts of leaders like Green, Toro, Gellerstedt and Baisiwala have benefitted Midtown in more ways than one, there’s always room for improvement. When asked about opportunities, Baisiwala said, “We’ll need a higher resident population, slower two-way streets, mixed-income housing and quality fitness facilities,” to name a few. The future of Midtown is bright, and if the past five years are any indication of its trajectory, this is just the beginning.
For more information, on the MAC Economic Development Council, please reach out to Josh Stephens. For more information on the Chamber’s Economic Development work, please visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/