When it comes to economic development, some local officials agree that it’s all about working together.
Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and a portion of unincorporated DeKalb County that could become the city of Brookhaven converge in the business district known as the Perimeter Center.
Sandy Springs and Dunwoody could face competition on a small scale from the more sharpened economic development efforts of a new city government if Brookhaven voters decide July 31 to create the new city. But the Perimeter Center works as a region, officials say.
Michael Starling, director of economic development for the city of Dunwoody, said it’s a good thing when companies locate anywhere in the Perimeter market because future employees may choose to live and shop in Dunwoody.
“There are benefits for all of us when somebody leases space on either side of the line,” Starling said. “It makes space in Dunwoody even more valuable. And as vacancy goes down there’s more opportunities for all of us. It’s not a zero-sum game that if we don’t get all the companies, we lose.”
Starling said his focus is to sell the Perimeter market before marketing office space in Dunwoody.
“We find that companies typically choose the office market first and then they start looking at buildings second,” he said.
The Perimeter Center Improvement Districts says the business district is the region’s largest employer and one of the largest concentrations of “Class A” office space in the southeastern United States. The area includes 4,000 businesses, more than 110,000 employees and 29 million square feet of office space and 6 million square feet of retail space, the PCID says.
Within the Perimeter center area, Starling said economic development requires “working together and not fighting with each other over businesses.”
Yvonne Williams, president and CEO of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, said the self-taxing business district doesn’t take city boundaries into account.
“We see it universally as a market that’s cross jurisdictional,” Williams said. “The way it’s marketed, you don’t see it as this community starts here and ends here.”
Williams said because the communities are so close, it’s important for them to work together to attract businesses.
“You can’t plan transportation that stops at jurisdictional lines. It has to be part of a seamless system,” she said. “You need models like this to implement, otherwise you’ll fall behind other metropolitan areas.”
Eva Galambos, mayor of Sandy Springs, said she thinks if voters approve a city of Brookhaven, it would help economic development for all the cities north of Atlanta.
“This whole northern crescent … we’re all joined at the hip,” Galambos said. “I think what’s good for one is good for the other.”
She said having another small municipal government could help attract businesses.
“I think any time you have a functioning, local government that is efficient, businesses will be attracted to such an area,” Galambos said. “Those benefits spill over city boundaries. We all benefit.”
Galambos said she feels that anything that comes to Dunwoody is good for Sandy Springs, while businesses that locate in Sandy Springs are good for Dunwoody. “I think that Brookhaven will be the same,” she said.