Public-Private Partnerships: Improving Urban Life

By Perry Davis | Go to book overview

Partnership New South Style:
Central Atlanta Progress

CLARENCE N. STONE

Race-consciousness, metropolitan fragmentation, and economic growth provide the context for Atlanta's public-private partnership. One could even say that the interrelationship among these three factors is the partnership's main concern. As one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, the Atlanta area now ranks thirteenth in population among the country's metropolitan areas; and it is experiencing a high level of office development and expanded employment, indicating continued economic and population growth in the near future. The city of Atlanta fits into the metropolitan area in a noteworthy way. The city is the main force behind area growth, yet the city itself is locked into boundaries largely formed by a major annexation in the early 1950s. That annexation pushed the city's population up to just under a half million. With some fluctuations, the city population has remained in that range since then. In the meantime, the population of the metropolitan area has grown to more than 2 million.

While the city's population has been relatively stable for some time, its racial composition has changed substantially. From a level of 38 percent black in 1960, the city moved to a black majority by the 1970 census and then rose to 67 percent in the 1980 census. Thus, Atlanta — the capital of Georgia, with its Deep South tradition — has become a predominantly black city. In the state and the metropolitan region, each of which is only one-fourth black, the city of Atlanta is conspicuously different from its predominantly white surroundings. This fact has had an enormous impact on both politics and private-development decisions. A major challenge for this predominantly black city is to garner a fair share of the region's economic growth. The harsh fact is that some investors are skittish about investing in a predominantly black community.

For city officials, there is the frustrating possibility that investment money could, as it did for a time in the 1970s, concentrate in the "golden crescent" outside the city along the northern portion of its perimeter highway. For private establishments with fixed investments in the central business district, that possibility is

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