Four Ways ARC’s CATLYST Program Aims to Improve Metro Atlanta’s Economic Competitiveness
Atlanta is one of the most dynamic, vibrant regions in the country and is adding jobs at one of the fastest rates in the nation.
Yet many challenges remain. For example, income gains are increasingly going to the top tier of wage earners, and the region trails some of its key competitors when it comes to providing young people the education and tools they need to succeed.
To address these issues, ARC and its regional partners recently launched CATLYST. This five-year effort has a goal of ensuring metro Atlanta has a steady supply of good jobs, a well-trained workforce, and the regional collaboration needed to catalyze economic growth throughout the region.
After months of research, collaboration, and robust public input, a steering committee made up of community and business leaders have identified four areas — known as pillars — in which to take action
CATLYST Pillar: Employed & Engaged
To truly unlock our region’s potential and remain competitive with our peers, we must market metro Atlanta as a whole, emphasizing our collective strengths. After all, a business considering a move may not know the difference between Marietta and Morrow, or Douglasville and Decatur — it’s all just metro Atlanta.
“I see every day why this is so important,” says Chris Pumphrey, executive director of the Development Authority of Douglas County. “Part of promoting Douglas County, for me, is to make prospective employers understand that the workforce available to them extends well beyond our borders into other counties.”
Work Program: Ramping Up Regional Marketing Alliance
The Atlanta Regional Marketing Alliance formed several years ago through ARC’s previous economic competitiveness effort and convenes the region’s economic development organizations to promote metro Atlanta as a top destination for businesses looking to move or expand.
The alliance has already helped attract high-profile businesses like Mercedes-Benz. But there’s plenty of room to ramp up the group’s efforts and make an even greater economic impact. For example, this project team will work with Aerotropolis Atlanta to better leverage the potential of the area around metro Atlanta’s airport.
CATLYST Pillar: Prepared & Productive
The Atlanta region boasts one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country, but the economy isn’t working for everyone. CATLYST’s Prepared & Productive project team will look for ways to confront this challenge and effect positive change — one neighbor at a time.
Work Program: Analyzing Root Causes of Disconnected and Displaced Workers
To start, the Prepared & Productive team will analyze this issue from all angles:
- Who are the disconnected workers in our region, and where do they live?
- What are the barriers preventing them from finding meaningful employment?
- What kinds of approaches might help ease their pathway to good jobs?
At the end of this one-to-two year process, the team will produce a detailed report that will form the foundation for the next phase of our effort: identifying specific projects and programs that are making a difference, and scaling them up in order to change lives.
CATLYST Pillar: Healthy & Housed
Everyone needs a solid foundation to be a productive member of society. That means access to quality, affordable housing, and a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, too many of us lack these critical building blocks and are struggling to get ahead. That’s where CATLYST’s Healthy & Housed team comes in.
Work Program: Identifying Effective Affordable Housing Strategies
The team will create a regional strategy designed to increase the availability of quality, affordable housing. There are plenty of solid efforts underway that are making a solid difference on a small scale. Rather than re-invent the wheel, this team will use hard data to identify such ideas and efforts in our community and beyond—and then work together, to scale those efforts up.
CATLYST Pillar: Connected & Resilient
The Atlanta region is one of the world’s premier economies — but too many metro residents lack connections to the people, places, and information they need to lead resilient, prosperous lives.
Work Program: Studying the Causes of Poverty in Metro Atlanta
The project team will study poverty and how it impacts our community. The team will analyze the data and relevant research to address critical questions:
- What are the barriers that keep people trapped in poverty?
- Why are poverty rates increasing in some areas?
- What does poverty mean to our local economy?
“We must fully understand the causes of poverty and economic immobility in metro Atlanta before we can begin the search for solutions,” said team member Milton Little, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
Being connected to the community — whether physically or civically, through volunteerism, cultural activities, and political processes — provides residents the opportunity to personally improve their quality of life.
You can learn even more about the program and view its executive summary on the CATLYST website.