City sectors learn ‘a lot’ at all-day meeting

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Representatives from every major sector of Atmore gathered for an all-day workshop with Smart Growth America on Feb. 20 at the library.

The workshop will help draw on successful private and public sector lessons to help local leaders foster development patterns that cost Atmore’s taxpayers less to build, run and maintain, according to Advance archives. During the workshop, invited participants will talk about how development decisions can save money for local governments, make money for businesses and support the city’fs long-term fiscal and economic health.

City officials said the workshop was informative and positive.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I think it was helpful because it got different voices within the community together,” Councilman Chris Harrison said. “The workshop gave them an opportunity to get in focus groups and breakout sessions, where we basically came up with some issues we saw that needed addressed and how to correct them.”

Harrison said a couple of the issues his group discussed included providing more lighting downtown, and establishing an alternate 18-wheeler truck route from Main Street.

Those attending the workshop broke out in groups. Harrison said his group talked about the downtown area. Another group, which was one among others, talked about the Rivercane development.

Staff, who was in the Rivercane group, said the overall experience was positive.

“We talked about what we need to do make it better,” Staff said. “Everybody had good ideas. I think it’s going to work out well. It was all positive. Everybody was on board of doing something positive.”

Staff said in about two weeks, Smart Growth America will send out a synopsis on what the city needs to do onward.

“I think everybody ‘s enthusiastic about where we’re going from here,” he said. “We’re just waiting on them to give us a direction. They listened to everything we had to offer, all of our plusses and minuses.”

The two-day workshop began on Feb. 19 with an introductory public presentation at Escambia County High School auditorium. According to Advance archives, Atmore is one of six cities in the country that’s being helped by Smart Growth America.

During the community meeting on Feb. 19, former Meridian, Miss. Mayor John Robert Smith spoke about the steps his city went through to bring economic stability.

Smith said Meridian, like Atmore, was built on the railroad. The city’s earliest projects included building a multipurpose depot station along the railroad.

Another project in Meridian included renovating an old opera house from the inside out, among others.

Smith said there are three questions any community needs to ask and answer. They include who were you in past; who are you now; and who do you aspire to be?

Much of the talk at the community meeting centered around the two major demographic populations — the baby boomers and millennials.

Smith said millennials, those who were born between 1981-1996, according to Newsweek, make up the biggest portion of today’s workforce.

He said the SGA is finding that many millennials are moving to cities and finding work, rather than the other way around.

Chris Zimmern, another consultant with Smart Growth America, said at the meeting that main street communities are making a big come back.