At the Corner Deli, I have standing appointments with some of our city department heads. As I open the door, I get a nod from Mel and a hug from his wife Zelda, the owners, followed by a self-poured cup of coffee. The pots are in the back. As our meetings begin, I can’t help but notice an unspoken level of excitement. Sometimes, it’s the subject of conversation from those huddled around the small tables. Other times, it’s simply implied. But, it feels good. People are excited. Something is different here in Alpharetta.
Earlier this year, we were named the sixth-fastest growing city in the country and we have consistently maintained the lowest unemployment rate in the state (5.2 percent as I write this). Last year, we were named the seventh-friendliest city in the country, and before that, the No. 1 city to move to in the country. What is it that makes Alpharetta so special and appealing?
Let me first say, it’s not us. It’s you. Alpharetta is Georgia’s hometown and the Technology City of the South because you made it that way. Because of you, those who live here and employ here, Avalon (a $600 million private investment) is rocketing out of the ground; the new City Center project is starting to take shape; downtown is beginning to thrive; HP, McKesson, Ernst and Young Global IT and others are coming and expanding here, bringing new jobs to Alpharetta.
Much of this building excitement stems from the changes in downtown. Great downtowns are built on food and music. This year, you supported some new events built on that fact, and I could not be more thrilled. A great example is Food Truck Alley, a food and music event which brings thousands to downtown every Thursday night during the warmer months. You’ve made it the biggest and most successful food truck event in metro Atlanta. You also came out in droves for the Brew Moon Festival, Taste of Alpharetta, the Christmas Tree Lighting and the newest addition, Wire and Wood, a songwriter’s festival. And, the best part is it’s working. This year, Hop Alley and Salt Factory have opened as a result of this activity, adding to our emerging downtown restaurant scene. 2014 will see even more openings. Also, the pipe farms along Canton Street are finally gearing up for residential construction amidst a growing interest in living downtown.
Additionally, Alpharetta continues to emerge as the Technology City of the South. As the economic engine of North Fulton, you have 600 technology companies located within your borders. That’s one technology company for every 100 residents. And these companies are significant. Where Georgia leads nationally in the field of technology, 35 percent of those companies are located in Alpharetta. On Alpharetta’s borders are 300 additional technology companies, making Alpharetta the epicenter of the highest concentration of technology companies (900 in all) anywhere in the Southeast.
There is so much more to tell, but for now, know that Alpharetta’s present and future are extremely bright. It is my hometown, and if it’s not yours, I hope you’ll make it yours this 2014. Thank you for your continued trust. Maybe I’ll see you at the Corner Deli.