November 20, 2013
On Tuesday, November 19, the Doraville Kiwanis and Church of the New Covenant held a Future of Local Economic Development Forum. The two special guests were Dr. Shawn Gillen, Doraville’s City Manager and Marie Garrett, Brookhaven’s City Manager. Each one spoke about the opportunities and challenges facing their cities, as well as their unique strategies for success.
Both managers stressed how interconnected our region is, and the importance of cooperation among cities. Code enforcement, consistently applied, was stressed by both officials – each one making the case that businesses would be attracted to an area where they knew rules would be equitably enforced, and that they would be treated as fairly as their competitors.
Dr. Gillen discussed the “Broken Windows” theory a few times. This is the idea that if we don’t enforce codes in a fair and effective way, urban rot will set in. He has reorganized Doraville’s code enforcement group and believes that he has gotten a handle on this. He’s also doing what he can to attract businesses, which will then attract other similar businesses. A technology company that moved into the old post office (across from the MARTA station) may encourage similar companies to move into the city.
Dr. Gillen touched a bit on another Doraville-specific issue on many people’s mind — namely the future of the GM plant. He made a point that whatever development happens there will completely remake the city. In 10 years, we won’t be able to remember what the city was like when the GM plant was empty.
It was a good presentation, moderated by Nancy Berlin. I hope it is the first of many others.