The panel included Laura Meadows from the Department of Community Affairs; Thomas Weyandt, director of comprehensive planning for the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC); Jerry Griffin, executive director of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia; Helen Hatch, an architect who serves as chair of the Urban Land Institute-Atlanta; Michael Sizemore, a member of the Land Use Committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce; Carl Patton, president of Georgia State University; and Walter D. Broadnax, president of Clark Atlanta University, who served as moderator.
, nevertheless, pointed out that smart growth (a term that was used interchangeably with quality growth throughout the day), despite its buzz worthy status in the media and the government, is still a concept that goes against current popular thinking.The public doesn't always understand it, and financial institutions don't want to back what they consider risky development when they can continue backing tried and true office complexes and strip malls that are still guaranteed cash cows.
"Higher education has historically enabled society to change its thinking and adapt its resources.We need more of that now," considered Sizemore
pointed out key facts that the public and financial institutions rarely seem to have available, like the fact that those who can rely on downtown resources and who can walk from place to place save $8,000 a year by not driving a car.
echoed these ideas and also pointed out that colleges who positively interact with the community around them exemplify the public-private partnership that must happen for quality growth to occur."It is a partnership that is fraught with danger and potential misunderstandings," he
said, "but when it works, it creates excellent examples, such as Georgia State University
and downtown Atlanta, the University of Georgia and Athens, and Savannah College of Art
and Design and Savannah."He
noted the symbiotic relationship of colleges and the surrounding towns, that as the town gets more attention for its excellent quality of life, the college that has helped enable that quality of life also gets more recognition, which in turn draws more people, therefore helping to grow the surrounding town.