GCS Adopts New Strategic Plan
Healthy cities are critical to Georgia's future. Strong, vibrant cities are essential to the quality of life and prosperity of the state of Georgia. While only representing 9% of the state's land area, they account for 69% of the jobs, 67% of the commercial property and 49% of the industrial property in the state. In addition, they generate greater taxing power per acre than property in unincorporated areas despite the fact that over half of all tax-exempt property is located in cities.
Cities are experiencing a renaissance. Fueled by the desire for a greater sense of place, deeper social connections, recreational and cultural amenities, and a live/work/place lifestyle, city population growth was 20.7% between 2008 and 2018, as compared to the state's overall population growth of 10.7% during the same period. Construction and redevelopment of downtown buildings for office, retail and residential use is now commonplace, as is revitalization of many neighborhoods in close proximity to city centers.
And yet, for Georgia's cities to reach their full potential, significant challenges must be addressed. These challenges include, but are not limited to, building future leadership capacity and improving levels of civic engagement; addressing systemic conditions and policies that foster racial inequities and perpetuate the outcomes of intergenerational poverty, such as low academic achievement and lack of a trained workforce, substandard housing and blighted neighborhoods, substance abuse, crime and a myriad of physical health problems; and creating a pipeline of qualified workers to fill critical municipal government positions.
The major challenges which are holding cities back cannot be solved by municipal leaders alone. Collaborative efforts must be undertaken which require the active involvement of local government officials, as well as the private sector and non-profit sectors, the philanthropic community, academia and individual citizens impacted by the challenges.
City leaders are best suited to convene stakeholders in their community to tackle serious, persistent community challenges. Mayors and other municipal officials, by virtue of their position, enjoy the respect and standing to organize community collaboratives to address focus on major challenges.
It is not GCS' intent or desire to duplicate existing programs and initiatives. Rather, the role of GCS is to fill voids by launching new programs through strategic partnerships or leverage and coordinate the work of multiple organizations to have a greater impact on GCS focus areas.
With this in mind, GCS adopted the attached strategic plan on October 20, 2020.