ARC looks to future with state of region

ATLANTA - In 50 years, what will metropolitan Atlanta look like?

With a two-year visioning plan launched Thursday at its State of the Region breakfast, the Atlanta Regional Commission hopes to visualize a scenario that will allow the region to thrive in the next five decades.

"Let's go create a future we all love," ARC Chairman Sam Olens said.

More than 1,000 people attended the event, where futurist Glen Hiemstra presented his vision of metropolitan Atlanta in 2057.

Hiemstra described a region that had become an environmental leader, creating next-energy technologies and thinking about water efficiency, one that is a lifelong livable community, with more people pursuing higher education.

"If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that the future will not resemble the past," Hiemstra said. "It will not resemble the present. As we look around, we can expect things to change."

ARC statistics showed that the region is a growth magnet, with the sixth-fastest growing Hispanic population and the fourth-fastest growing Asian population. The number of residents older than 65 will double by 2025.

Many of the problems metro Atlanta will face in the future are a result of growth successes now, Hiemstra said. But a slowdown in growth will give the region time to regroup and plan for the years to come.

"The attitude in this region is that we can do something," he said. "The next 50 years is the time to tackle these challenges. The future is not something that just happens to us. The future is something we do."

The ARC will host future forums to discuss sustainability for coming generations.

Also at the breakfast, three Gwinnett entries won awards for Developments of Excellence and CREATE Community awards.

The Gwinnett County Environmental and Heritage Center was honored for its exceptional merit for sustainable building and design and the Duluth Town Green won the Livable Centers Initiative achievement award. Gwinnett County's community schools program won the educational excellence award for innovation.

Delmar Gardens of Gwinnett was also recognized with a business and aging award for helping to improve the quality of life for older adults in the region.