Hometown feel, tech focuses of Belle Isle

Alpharetta booming

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle stopped by the Rotary Club of North Fulton April 8 to give an update on his favorite city and all the happenings since he took office.

He said his vision was to create a hometown feel for his residents. Anyone can have a house, he said, but having a home requires work.

The city is helping with that work by creating a sense of community. This is done by creating a downtown – the City Center, new shops and restaurants with plenty of walkability – and then filling that new downtown with near-weekly events.

“You can’t have a great hometown without a great downtown,” he said. “Great downtowns are built on food and music. It is a catalyst.”

Several new restaurants have cropped up in the downtown area with plenty more to come, and the recent “Wire and Wood” street music festival brought thousands of people downtown. Weekly food truck events – which will be starting again soon – continually drew crowds last year.

“The residents don’t seem to be showing event fatigue,” he said. “It’s working.”

His efforts to create a “hometown” are attracting more than simply residents, it seems. The city boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state and the economy is picking up quickly.

“A city’s full potential lies in its greatest strength,” he said.

That strength, as he found out since becoming mayor, is in technology.

A whopping 35 percent of the state’s technology companies are based in or around Alpharetta. There are 600 tech companies within the city and a further 300 in close proximity. In comparison, Atlanta has 300.

“We have the highest concentration in the Southeast,” he said. “There is our strength.”

To aid this, the city has begun programs and commissions to encourage new companies to relocate to the city and to help existing companies do business better.

In response to this, Belle Isle said 3,500 new tech-related jobs have come to the city in recent years.

“It’s exciting to see all these things come into being,” Belle Isle said.

The Rotary Club of North Fulton meets every Tuesday at noon at the Diner at North Point. For more, visit them online at www.northfultonrotary.org.

MH 04-16-14