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CEO: Beltline Is Atlanta Region's 'Next Big Step Forward'

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Earlier this year, when patronage on the Eastside Trail truly began to swell, an interesting question swirled around the blogosphere: Could the Beltline be the most important, city-altering thing to happen to Atlanta since the Olympics, if not ever? This week, the two obvious game-changers are being mentioned in the same breath again. In a guest column for the Saporta Report, U.S. Micro president and CEO Jim Kegley lauds the Betline as an incubator for the sort of walkable neighborhoods and creative development that will keep Atlanta competitive in its mission to attract and retain young, mobile — and let's face it, picky — talent. Whether through sponsorships of art installations or mega-donations, Kegley makes a convincing case for why businesses and philanthropies should chip in to the Beltline project. "Now is the time for more of us who have seen our companies grow exponentially since the Olympics to step up and further the Atlanta Beltline's momentum," Kegley writes. "The (project) is the region's next big step forward."

Kegley's business has been a four-year presenting sponsor of the Art on the Atlanta Beltline initiative, so he's put his money where his mouth is. He points out that countless studies have shown that, in these modern times, young talent is drawn to dense city neighborhoods that "encourage the sort of chance encounters between talented people that lead to innovation and boost productivity."

Later, Kegley waxes poetic about walking the Eastside Trail and noting not only the ubiquitous construction, but evidence of partnerships that have already been forged, including Trees Atlanta's verdure and the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark's thrum of activity. And then he gets all big-picture: "With each step, you'll see new developments and programs strengthening individual neighborhoods soon to be connected not only by proximity but through a stronger sense of community," Kegley writes. "With the influence, resources and talent to be found in Atlanta's dynamic and diverse private sector, it's crucial that a broader array of business leaders ramp up their commitment to these projects and ensure this city continues to realize its potential as the thriving economic hub of the Southeast."

· Beltline: Best Thing in ATL Since the Olympics? [Curbed Atlanta]
· Atlanta will prosper if more companies step up to support BeltLine project [Saporta Report]
· $18M Grant Will Fuel Expansion of the BeltLine in SW Atlanta [Curbed Atlanta]
· Recent Atlanta Beltline coverage [Curbed Atlanta]