During last week’s Airport Area Chamber of Commerce’s View from the Top panel discussion at the Georgia International Convention Center, East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman and Union City mayoral candidate Vince Williams joined mayors from Morrow and Forest Park in a pledge to work together in the pursuit of opportunities fostered by their close proximity to the airport.
“If it is good for East Point, it is good for Union City and our other municipal partners,” Williams said.
Prior to the panel discussion, the mayors spoke to about 350 attendees of the progress their cities have made with regard to business and residential opportunities.
Pittman said East Point, once known as the sixth largest industrial city in the state, lost much of its commercial and residential base in the past 60 years.
“However, within the last decade we have experienced phenomenal commercial and residential development,” she said.
In response to a question regarding the growth of the film industry in Clayton County, Pittman said it is difficult for small south Fulton cities to attract Hollywood attention because of their size.
“Unless we come together and have regional cooperation to attract the film industry, they will go elsewhere,” she said. “It is hard to go outside and bring in film and television production companies because of our size, so regional cooperation is essential.”
Williams, who called the importance of developing regional partnerships as essential to the financial and commercial well-being of the area, said the “power of partnerships” cannot be overlooked.
“Collectively with our leadership, business community and residents, Union City is working hard to strengthen its efforts to compete and win business in our global economy,” he said.
Williams added that, like Union City’s south Fulton municipal partners, “we are open for business with our effort to create and maintain jobs being paramount,” he said.
Williams said the area has to look toward developing educational opportunities which will address the current demands of a global economy.
“The jobs we’ve been used to for 10 or 20 years aren’t around anymore,” he said. “If we, as south Fulton cities, are going to develop economically, we have got to collectively have our local people who are trained to fill the jobs that require higher educational achievement and know-how.”
Serving as one of two moderators for the panel discussion, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, Ph.D., said south Fulton has, “two Achilles’ heels” which must be addressed to impact growth and economic development, public school education and the strength of neighborhoods positively.
Eaves said south Fulton has too many students still dropping out of high school and, in addition, has far too few institutions of higher learning in the area.
“We have got to strengthen our educational opportunities in south Fulton,” Eaves said
In regard to neighborhoods, he said the area has far too many foreclosures.
“If our cities can continue to address these problems, and do so in partnership with one another while using the collective resources we have, we can change this situation,” Eaves said.