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Community development departments focus on Atlanta jobs

June 1st, 2017

One city department that focuses on Atlanta jobs will be renamed, according to local officials.

Atlanta City Council has approved for the Department of Planning and Community Development to be renamed the Department of City Planning.

The name change comes as a result of an internal reorganization and several improvements conducted to ensure efficient city planning, a streamlined permitting process and best-in-class customer service.

“Our department is committed to high quality, sustainable and equitable growth and development in Atlanta,” said Tim Keane, Commissioner of the Department of City Planning. “As the diverse communities that define and give Atlanta its distinguishing character grow and sustain, we’re progressing with them. We wanted to simplify the name while also being representative of our progression and commitment to improving all aspects of planning for the City of Atlanta.”

Following the reorganization, the department encompasses the following divisions to guide effective measures of planning, design review, construction plan approval, code compliance and housing assistance:

  • Office of Buildings
  • Office of Zoning and Development
  • Office of Housing and Community Development
  • Office of Mobility Planning
  • Office of Design

For the past two years, the Department has worked diligently to enhance the services offered by the City of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning, with a targeted focus on the permitting process.

The Department established a Technical Advisory Committee made up of industry leaders to offer their expertise, a certification process to increase staff’s technical capacity and knowledge, and created a combination inspection program which improves customer service.

The Department of City Planning works closely with Neighborhood Planning Units, independent community organizations and developers to provide policy guidance and assistance to support growth in the community.

Expansion creates information solutions jobs in Atlanta

June 1st, 2017

The expansion of Equifax will create more information solutions jobs in Atlanta.

Equifax will bring more than 800 jobs to the City of Atlanta and expand its workforce to nearly 3,000 over the next five years. During an unveiling ceremony of Equifax’s new office space at One Atlantic Center in Midtown Atlanta, Mayor Reed joined Equifax Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard F. Smith and Chief Global Operations Officer Andy Bodea, as well as Invest Atlanta President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Eloisa Klementich, Georgia State Senator Brandon Beach and Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson.

“I want to congratulate Equifax for its ongoing success and expansion,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Equifax is a company with deep, established roots in our great city, and has redefined itself as a front-runner in the FinTech space. The organization’s commitment to the city’s growth trajectory has also helped further establish Atlanta as one of the leading technology and innovation hub in the world.”

With its close proximity to the Georgia Institute of Technology campus, the new office space spans five floors in the 50-story iconic skyscraper.

It serves as an extension of the company’s operations and joins the other Equifax metro Atlanta locations. Currently, Equifax employs more than 2,200 workers.

The expansion is expected to generate over $62 million of economic impact for the City of Atlanta as a result of a $17 million investment by Equifax in the project, which was also supported by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“It’s a very exciting day for us as we continue to expand our presence in the Atlanta metro area and reaffirm our commitment to the growth of our great city,” said Andy Bodea, Chief Global Operations Officer at Equifax. “These new offices are both a testament to the strength of our operations as well as to the vitality of the FinTech community in Atlanta, a growth engine in the U.S. We remain committed to drive innovation in all areas of our business and investing in the best talent to ensure we continue to deliver value to customers and consumers.”

Construction jobs in Atlanta continue

June 1st, 2017

A recent order made construction jobs in Atlanta on transportation routes grind to a halt, but this has now been lifted.

Atlanta announced that the executive order suspending non-emergency construction activity while the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) conduct repairs to the impacted sections of Interstate 85 has been lifted.

On April 10, Mayor Kasim Reed issued the executive order to mitigate traffic congestion and to preserve access for first responders and to hospitals.

Following the order, the Atlanta City Council approved a resolution requiring that the moratorium and work time restriction end upon the reopening of Interstate 85. The Interstate 85 bridge will reopen Monday, May 15, 2017.

The City of Atlanta will also remove “No Thru Traffic” signage posted in designated areas near the bridge. In addition, the City of Atlanta Office of Buildings will resume accepting new construction permits.

“I want to thank our GDOT partners for working around the clock to repair and open Interstate 85 way ahead of schedule,” said Mayor Reed. “I also want to thank our residents, visitors and public employees for their patience during a time when normal travel routes throughout the city had to be adjusted.”

The City of Atlanta continues to encourage residents, visitors and public employees to consider taking transit, such as MARTA and the Atlanta Streetcar, whenever possible.

Initiative promotes trade jobs in Atlanta

May 2nd, 2017

A new education program is promoting trade jobs in Atlanta.

The state has launched a new brand for Georgia’s skilled trade education initiative Trade Five, formerly known as Go Build Georgia.

“One of the state’s greatest economic development assets is our workforce,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “It is critically important that we provide companies who locate or expand in Georgia access to a reliable workforce. Our Trade Five initiative educates future workers about in-demand skilled trade careers, and supplies employers with a young, talented workforce to meet their business needs.”

“Trade Five, Skills for Higher Earning” was announced during the Champions Breakfast at the annual Skills USA Georgia State Leadership and Skills Conference/Career Expo being held at the Georgia International Convention Center.

This initiative, launched in 2012 by Governor Deal, is designed to dispel the misconceptions that jobs within the skilled trades are “dirty” and unattractive, but rather promote the lucrative, lasting career opportunities that exist within these key industries across the State.

“We’ve heard from countless employers about a need for a young, educated and skilled workforce to meet the demands of business,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Ben Hames. “We are excited to continue the good work of promoting opportunities within the skilled trades through our very own Trade Five initiative.”

As an effort to promote skilled trade education across the state, Trade Five launched a grant and scholarship program in early 2016. The Trade Five Grant program is a $500 grant, awarded to Georgia high schools who seeks financial support for the enhancement of their skilled trade education efforts. The Trade Five Scholarship program is a $1,000 scholarship, awarded each year to graduating Georgia high school seniors who will be attending a Technical College System of Georgia institution to study a skilled trade-related program.

Company to create manufacturing jobs in Atlanta

May 2nd, 2017

A company has announced it is expanding and creating more manufacturing jobs in Atlanta.

Star Snacks, Co. LLC, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality branded nuts, trail mixes and dried fruits, will create 115 jobs and invest more than $18 million in a peanut roasting and packaging facility in Macon-Bibb County.

“Georgia’s business-friendly environment has again attracted a leading manufacturer to invest in our state,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “In choosing Macon-Bibb County, Star Snacks will enjoy the benefits of locating in the top state for both business and peanut production. Georgia’s skilled workforce and unparalleled economic environment will serve Star Snacks well for the future as the company continues to grow.”

Star Snacks will construct a 200,000-square-foot facility to source, roast and distribute peanuts grown in southwest Georgia. The newly created jobs will include positions in manufacturing and processing.

“We are excited about establishing our new processing facility in Bibb County,” said Mendel Brachfeld, managing partner of Star Snacks. “One of the big attractions was the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority team’s capabilities and eagerness to make things happen. In addition we feel very confident in the local workforce to be able to support our company.”

Star Snacks specializes in the production and distribution of salty snacks. The company’s services also include private labeling for brand name retailers, national and regional drug store chains, supermarkets and discount retailers.

“Our new model is working and we are elated to add a new investment of 115 new jobs to our regional economic impact for this community,” said Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby. “Star Snacks reflects our values as a family-owned business with a proven record of success for over fifty years. Expanding Macon-Bibb’s footprint in the snack industry and agribusiness field is a testament to our great location, business-friendly environment, and ability to attract more new industry.”

Company creates processing jobs in Atlanta

May 2nd, 2017

The expansion of one company is creating processing jobs in Atlanta.

Lake Foods, LLC will create 130 new full-time jobs and invest $8 million in Hart County. This expansion news more than doubles their workforce.

“We are pleased that Lake Foods has decided to grow their operations in Hart County,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Georgia’s top-notch workforce and pro-business climate is the perfect complement to Lake Food’s commitment to the state. We look forward to supporting them in their continuous growth.”

The 62,000-square-foot facility is located in Hart County’s Industrial Park and operates a processing center, refrigerated inventory storage and main hub. Lake Foods will process and introduce a variety of different products to the market and for its customers across the country.

“The Hartwell location has provided us with an eager and highly trainable workforce, and has proven to be an excellent location for our food processing business,” said co-owner of Lake Foods, David Strawn. “With assistance from both state and local resources, we have recently upgraded our wastewater pre-treatment system to accommodate growth, added new processing lines, and increased our presence in the business sector.”

Lake Foods is a privately owned company with the long term goal of becoming a large, nationally recognized preferred supplier. With more than a century of experience, the team at Lake Foods strives to provide a desirable, safe and competitively compensated place of employment for all of its associates.

“The successful location of Lake Foods, LLC, in the Hart County community and the pace of expansion is a testimony to the company’s ability to compete in the global marketplace and to the great work ethic of local area citizens,” said Chairman of the Hart County Board of Commissioners Joey Dorsey. “The Hart County Board of Commissioners is pleased to see the company thriving in our community and providing additional job opportunities.”

Retail space to create Atlanta jobs

April 8th, 2017

The sale of a large retail space will create more Atlanta jobs.

The sale has been finalized for Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc. for $34.6 million. WRS, Inc., a real estate investment company based in Charleston, South Carolina, will redevelop the 12-acre site into a live-work-shop community with retail, hospitality, entertainment and residential space. The sale will result in $8 million annual cost savings for the City.

“The sale of Underground Atlanta is another milestone in the revitalization of South Downtown Atlanta,” said Mayor Reed. “WRS, Inc. brings a high level of expertise and strong track record of successful developments to an area of our City in need of a fresh approach. Based on the City’s track record with Ponce City Market, the Lakewood Fairgrounds (now EUE Screen Gems) and Buckhead Atlanta, I am confident that we will succeed in transforming Underground Atlanta into a vibrant component of our City’s commercial business district.”

Since announcing the sale of Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc. nearly two years ago, the City has facilitated and participated in numerous public conversations with stakeholders, residents and the developer. In their commitment to being an excellent partner for Atlanta and the surrounding downtown community, the firm has agreed to meet the requirements of the City’s affordable housing ordinance, regardless of whether it pursues development incentives. Any multi-family development at Underground Atlanta will include 10 or 15 percent units at 60 or 80 percent AMI – a tremendous opportunity for working families to live in the new residential development.

WRS, Inc. has also agreed to preserve a grid for public pedestrian and bicycle use on Alabama Street and Pryor Street; to share its written plan for community engagement to be conducted throughout the development process, which has been approved by the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, Inc. and the City; and to accept protective covenants which require the preservation of certain portions of Underground Atlanta that are historical in nature. WRS also agreed to accept the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) right to approve the master development concept plan for this project as well as any material modifications thereof, but only after public advertisement and opportunity for public review and comment of the modifications have been provided. These agreements will be memorialized in protective covenants and easements that run with the land and will bind WRS and future owners of Underground Atlanta. These agreements demonstrate WRS’s ongoing strong partnership with our city and with downtown stakeholders.

“Some years ago, the idea of redeveloping Underground Atlanta was evidently slightly unseen and more than a few folks were skeptical, including skepticism from our peers. Not surprisingly, popular sentiment has certainly changed in a favorable direction,” said Scott Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of WRS, Inc. “We have always been and remain strong believers in the potential for great things in downtown Atlanta and Underground in particular. The redevelopment of Underground is a truly unique opportunity, something that cannot be found anywhere else in the Southeast. For us as developers, this represents an incredibly awesome opportunity and we know that it also represents an equally awesome responsibility. We take both very seriously. Somewhat distinct from other projects in Atlanta, Underground Atlanta holds a special place in the memories of many people. We intend to undertake this redevelopment with great care, communicate closely with the neighboring constituents and most importantly we intend to create a new community that makes everyone very proud of this corner of the rapidly changing downtown Atlanta landscape.”

Hiring policies to affect Atlanta jobs

April 4th, 2017

Second chance hiring policies will affect some Atlanta jobs.

According to Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Yancy, Atlanta stands by its policy of prohibiting questions to job applicants about their criminal history during initial interviews, because in our city, we know that crime’s costs can’t be addressed with improved policing alone. Nearly one in three United States citizens has a prior conviction. Ninety-five percent of incarcerated individuals are eventually released, and this year more than 600,000 ex-offenders will return to their communities, including Atlanta and the metropolitan region.

According to a 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute, employment reduces recidivism rates. More specifically, the sooner ex-offenders are employed, the less likely they are to commit future crimes resulting in further jail and prison time. Through its policies, Atlanta has an opportunity to demonstrate substantive change in ending the cycle of incarceration.

Both public and private employers have chosen to ‘ban the box,’ prohibiting questions about previous criminal history until later in the hiring process. This gives ex-offenders the chance to get their foot in the door, and to be considered fairly among other applicants. Through this initiative, countless Americans have been able to reclaim their freedom and lead productive lives by earning the gainful employment so necessary to their rehabilitation.

Nearly twenty percent of all job applicants at the City of Atlanta have a prior conviction. By and large, employees with a past conviction are motivated and effective workers because they do not want to lose their jobs and re-enter the cycle of recidivism. They want to be productive, contributing members of their community, and their performance proves it.

When an employer adopts a second-chance hiring policy, it does not get to pick and choose which crimes make someone ineligible for employment; rather, per 2012 EEOC guidelines, the employer must evaluate the candidate based on the position they applied for, and this is precisely what the City of Atlanta does when evaluating all applicants.

Conference to attract parks and recreation jobs in Atlanta

March 29th, 2017

A new conference will address how to create more parks and recreation jobs in Atlanta,

Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong, Department of Planning and Community Development Commissioner Tim Keane, Chief Resilience Officer Stephanie Stuckey, Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST General Manager General Manager Faye DiMassimo, Department of Watershed Management Director Todd Hill and Chief Bicycle Officer Becky Katz will participate in Park Pride’s 16th Annual Parks & Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

City officials will join more than 400 other parks and recreation professionals, policy makers, architects and landscape architects, urban planners and community members.

Atlanta leaders will serve as panelists for a session, “Government Powerhouse Panel on Connectivity,” to share how city departments actively collaborate to promote greenspace expansion and connectivity. Attendees will learn how parks, greenspace and trails development are being integrated into stormwater management, transportation and city planning initiatives.

“I believe I speak for my colleagues when I say that the City of Atlanta is excited to participate in such an important discussion on how local government plays an essential role in connecting residents to quality greenspaces and amenities,” said Amy Phuong, Commissioner for the Department of Parks and Recreation. “We are committed to realizing a City of Atlanta that is connected like never before, has a park in walking distance from every resident’s home and offers transportation modes which fits every resident’s preference. We look forward to engaging with other city leaders and conference attendees, as well as learning additional innovative approaches to further enhance our park and transportation system.”

Under Mayor Kasim Reed’s leadership, the Department of Parks and Recreation acquired an additional 171 acres of land in the City of Atlanta, including 15 new parks. As a result, 64 percent of Atlanta residents live within a half-mile walk of a park, up from 50 percent four years ago, serving as the largest greenspace accessibility percentage jump in more than 40 years. The Department of Parks and Recreation actively collaborates with other city departments to install dedicated bike lanes, streetscape and green infrastructure improvements in local parks.

Funding goes to art jobs in Atlanta

March 5th, 2017

A new round of funding from city leaders will invest in art jobs in Atlanta, among other areas.

Atlanta has pledged $1 million to the Woodruff Arts Center Transformation Campaign, one of the most ambitious fundraising initiatives in the history of Atlanta’s largest arts organization. The Campaign raised $110 million total, surpassing its original goal of $100 million when it launched in April 2015. The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Art. The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to finalize the donation to the Woodruff Arts Center.

“The leading cities of the world invest significantly in arts and culture, and Atlanta should be no different,” said Mayor Reed. “We’re fortunate to have the Woodruff Arts Center which has been bringing world-class art and arts education to Atlanta for nearly 50 years as a centerpiece of our thriving arts community. Providing this support to the Arts Center is both a privilege and a responsibility, and we are pleased to have been able to contribute to this vital campaign.”

The Transformation Campaign focused on three areas: endowment funding, capital improvements – primarily for the Alliance Theatre renovation —and funding for expanded family-oriented programming and greater activation of the Arts Center’s campus. Doug Hertz, chairman of the Woodruff Arts Center Board of Trustees, served as the Campaign chair.

“The Transformation Campaign has lived up to its name,” said Virginia Hepner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Woodruff Arts Center. “Thanks to the incredible support of the community, we will literally transform our theater, increase the size of our orchestra, enhance our museum’s ability to exhibit great art and dramatically increase the community’s access to the arts. I believe the Transformation Campaign will be recognized as a watershed moment for the Woodruff Arts Center, a steppingstone to greater artistic and education achievement for years to come.”

Under Mayor Reed’s leadership, the City of Atlanta has continually increased its investments in arts and culture. In 2016, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs awarded more than $350,000 to individual artists and small to midsize organizations through multiple program areas. The Contracts for Arts Services program granted more than $1,000,000 to artists. The City of Atlanta also received $175,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts.