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With more than $23 billion in cumulative economic impact, the Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) in Cobb County are leaders in the metro Atlanta area and region. CIDs are a self-taxing organization with the objective of improving a specific area. Funded through a voluntary tax on commercial properties, CIDs leverage local, state, and federal dollars to fund projects within their defined geographical district. Since 1984, approximately 30 CIDs have been created across Georgia. Although several similar organizations exist in other states, such as a Business Improvement Districts, Cobb’s three CIDs – Cumberland, Town Center, and Gateway Marietta – are powerful, positive contributors to Cobb’s economic growth.

Georgia’s first CID was established in Cobb County in the Cumberland submarket. Now 35 years later, Cumberland is a thriving local and regional destination for business, leisure, and shopping – not to mention home to our Atlanta Braves and The Battery Atlanta. Through the years, the Cumberland CID has tackled a variety of projects including planning, interstate access, local roads, streetscapes and beautification, bicycle and walking trails, and various services. For example, the Cumberland Boulevard Loop Road was completed more than 20 years ago and totaled $300 million in investment. The roadway created a critical connection within the district’s boundaries and is a key project in the CID’s history, while also laying the groundwork for future projects.

More recently, with local, state, and federal funding in-hand, the Akers Mill Ramp is now underway. Once complete, this connection will create an additional access point for the I-75 NW Corridor Express Lanes System, as well as provide safe and direct access to more than 100,000 daily commuters. This mobility improvement effort is an excellent example of a CID’s unique ability to leverage funds and create partnerships to complete major projects.

This summer, the Cumberland CID also launched a pilot program: the Hopper, an autonomous shuttle provided as a part of a major mobility project called the Cumberland Sweep. And, that’s not all. Cumberland CID continues to make impactful and forward-thinking projects a reality as they spearhead major projects such as the Cobb Parkway Pedestrian Bridge, beautification efforts such as the Cumberland Murals, and quality of life projects such as the Bob Callan Trail and the Paces Mill/Palisades rehabilitation efforts.

“Celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, the Cumberland CID has invested over $160 million into key infrastructure and transportation projects to improve access, connectivity, and character in the district. These investments drive value and contribute to a richer quality of life,” says Kim Menefee, Executive Director of the Cumberland CID. “With over 3,300 businesses, 30,000 residents, and millions of visitors each year, Cumberland has become a bustling community and entertainment destination. But it’s our hometown pride comprised of the Atlanta Braves, a national park, the Chattahoochee River, the Atlanta Ballet, the Atlanta Opera, and so much more that makes Cumberland one of the most exciting places in the region.”

The Town Center CID has established itself as a thought leader in the region and state. Since CIDs are able to focus on a concentrated area, they are able to focus impactful projects with the foresight of planning for future growth. For example, Big Shanty Road was extended under I-75 to provide increased east-west connectivity in the District. This major infrastructure project not only provided improved mobility to the residents and commuters in this area, but it also helped to attract major projects such as the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta facilities, Fifth Third Bank Stadium – home of the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Owls, and an I-75 NW Corridor Express Lanes System access point that serves the entire district.

Town Center is also home to award-winning infrastructure improvement projects such as the Skip Spann Connector, which won the ASHE National Project of the Year and reduced traffic by over 20% on one of the District’s major east-west arterials, Chastain Road. The South Barrett Reliever projects will provide similar traffic congestion relief to Barrett Parkway. Phases I and II are complete, and Phase III is currently under construction.

Additionally, the Town Center CID has taken education through play to new heights in their creation of Aviation Park, an aviation-themed public park surrounded by educational and historical elements. By partnering with KSU’s Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books, Town Center has created interdisciplinary and interactive exhibits for simultaneous exercise and education. Looking ahead, the CID is exploring another new east-west connection under I-75, which would not only create a vital mobility connection, but would also provide opportunities for placemaking and beautification efforts.

“The Town Center CID and Alliance are powerful partners in our community,” says Tracy Styf, Executive Director of the Town Center CID. “We use a long lens to plan projects and programs that enhance commercial property values and create a community where businesses, residents, students and visitors can truly thrive.”

Our newest CID in Cobb is the Gateway Marietta CID. Established in 2014, Gateway Marietta has prioritized projects that provide improved beautification and public safety along the Franklin Gateway corridor. To support these efforts and help to establish a sense of place in the community, the CID has completed several initiatives, including major landscaping improvements along Delk Road and South Marietta Parkway. Additionally, the CID partnered with Flock Safety to install solar powered advanced technology cameras to capture vehicle identification information. This effort has led to a decrease in crime along Franklin Gateway and has helped to recover more than $100,000 in property. The Gateway Marietta CID makes intentional and effective use of their resources, which has led to many economic development wins, including several breweries, parks, and the Atlanta United FC’s headquarters building and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground.

Caroline Whaley, Executive Director of the Gateway Marietta CID, says, “the work being done by the Gateway Marietta CID is giving a renewed identity to the Franklin Gateway area. The strategic approach to utilize CID funds to improve the district and create a sense of place will lead to a continued impact on economic growth and private investment by businesses looking to locate or expand.”

To read the rest of this article, view it on the Cobb Business Journal‘s website here.