The face of that progress, Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, has been selected as the Neighbor’s newsmaker of the year for 2013.
Belle Isle said it feels incredible to be leading the city at a time of such change and development.
“The thing is we’ve got a great council,” he said. “The change and development is not an accident. It’s our leaders taking action and being willing to do something different to help make the city a better place. We’ve got a great council that’s willing to take on and consider things that haven’t been considered before [and] to take on new initiatives that haven’t been done before, and those things work.”
Belle Isle said plans to build up the downtown district and create a technology hub in the city advanced faster than he thought it would last year.
“When you put a plan together, you have an objective in mind and sometimes we’re surprised when it does exactly what we thought it would do and sometimes it does that sooner than we thought it would,” he said.
Events downtown flourished in 2013.
“What we really recognized is that we needed more of a consistent event and we needed to really shape it around food and music, so we brought up the Food Truck Thursdays,” Belle Isle said. “On its busiest nights, [the crowd] would reach around 5,000 people in the evening. Previous years, we didn’t have 5,000 in downtown Alpharetta for the entire summer.”
The Brew Moon Fest and Wire and Wood Songwriters Festival were other successful events last year. He said the downtown buzz has created more interest in restaurants wanting to locate downtown and residents wanting to move close by.
Belle Isle said the Alpharetta Technology Commission, established in 2012, worked well last year at engaging the city’s tech companies and making sure Alpharetta is ahead of the curve and known for its support of the industry.
“We have 600 technology companies inside the city limits of Alpharetta,” he said. “That’s twice as many as the city of Atlanta and the same number as Austin, Texas, which is known for their technology. … Now these companies are really starting to feel that they belong to a separate community other than just metro Atlanta.”
Belle Isle said his focus in 2014 will continue along the lines of downtown development and increased support of the technology industry.