Pitches in favor of the TSPLOST continue to be heard around Buckhead. Last week, Renay Blumenthal, senior vice president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods (BCN) about the importance of the TSPLOST passing on July 31 for future job growth.
Blumenthal, a long-time Buckhead resident and Atlanta native, said the Metro Atlanta Chamber has become involved with the TSPLOST because current traffic problems have hindered quality jobs coming into the area.
One example Blumenthal gave was a Fortune 500 company that would have brought 1,500 jobs initially into Metro Atlanta and ultimately created 5,000 new jobs.
Although strongly considering Atlanta, the company eventually settled on northern Virginia for its new location, citing traffic problems here as one of the major factors in their decision.
"We are trying to locate companies to come and expand in Atlanta," Blumenthal said. "The traffic issues become a determining factor whether or not businesses decide to locate here."
It is imperative, Blumenthal explained, that Atlanta stay completive with cities like Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Denver and Salt Lake City.
Leaders from those TSPLOST successful regions came to help formulate plans for Georgia's referendum, she said, although they openly stated that they hope it doesn't pass here.
"They literally said to us, 'good luck Atlanta. We are watching you and we hope it fails because, if it fails, we are going to use it to our competitive advantage.'"
While the building of the transportation projects will create jobs, Blumenthal said the lasting infrastructure Atlanta gets from it will allow it to become the kind of region that can attract businesses.
Another way the TSPLOST will attract new jobs, Blumenthal said, is by helping to keep the coveted 25-34 year-old demographic here. This age group wants to live in walkable, livable communities, which the TSPLOST addresses.
Atlanta used to be the top city for this demographic, Blumenthal said, although it is no longer even in the top five. Five of the seven top cities now for 25-34 year olds have a transportation tax just like the one being proposed in Atlanta, she said.
"Companies go where they know there is a talented work force."
As opposed to the TSPLOST as many people are, Blumenthal said the referendum's passage is better than the likely "Plan B" alternative.
"We are just going to have more toll roads and hot lanes. That is all the state knows how to do," she said.
No comparison methods have been conducted, though, to show the difference between annual toll fees and the TSPLOST.
“It seems to me it really is an economic development plan and maybe it should have been promoted as that instead of transportation plan,” BCN chair Jim King said.
King explained the nine-percent Atlanta sales tax, which would be in place if the TSPLOST passes, would still make the competition with other major cities hard.
“You’re trying to choose the lesser of all these evils,” he said.
What is your opinion? Do you believe more jobs will come with the TSPLOST? Will your vote be impacted by this information?