Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood delivered his State of the City address Thursday without notes or a podium — and very nearly without technology.
A slide show on two screens at NorthStar Church nearly failed to materialize, but once it did, Allegood was off and running for about 45 minutes, characterizing 2012 as “filled with a lot of recovery optimism.”
Referring often to “good friends,” which seemed to include all 270 attendees, Allegood thanked the Acworth Board of Aldermen, county commissioners, state representatives and the school board for their work.
From the stage, he greeted a “who’s who” of Cobb civic leaders such as Commission Chair Tim Lee, District Attorney Vic Reynolds, Chamber CEO David Connell and School Board Chair Randy Scamihorn.
Allegood packed the speech with a stream of accomplishments on the theme “No Place Like Home.”
He compared the city to itself 15 years ago, two years before he was elected to the Board of Aldermen and four years before he was elected mayor.
“In 1998, we had two businesses — the Two-Dollar Café and the Piggly Wiggly,” Allegood said about the city’s four-block downtown. “Now our downtown is a destination for shopping and dining. It’s one of the biggest transformations of a Main Street in the history of Georgia.”
He said it was no accident.
“This transformational growth was very strategic, and it was planned,” Allegood said.
Emphasizing business, education, diversity, city services, faith-based communities, public safety and recreation, along with “transformational leadership,” increased the quality of life, he said.
Allegood earned applause when he compared the 1998 tax rate of 7.9 mills with the 2013 rate of 7.6 mills.
“That’s right. We lowered our taxes, and we increased our services,” he said.
The formula for success, Allegood said, is simple.
“You go back to quality of life and economic development. You create commercial growth,” he said.
Allegood also gave the recipe for how city government can contribute to economic growth.
“Here’s what we’re doing: We’re working to build transparency, responsiveness and communication all at the same time,” he said.
Ahead for 2013 are a variety of initiatives, like a study for new hotels at the city’s two exits on Interstate 75.
Allegood said the study may lead to the city tourism department’s attracting Hampton and Marriott properties.
“Thank you for your commitment to get the Ritz-Carlton,” he said jokingly to Holly Bass, CEO of the county travel and tourism office.
Also on the horizon for 2013 are SPLOST projects like a $2.5 million “quiet zone” replacing train whistles with secure railroad crossings.
“Having a quiet zone is going to have a very positive impact on the quality of life and redeveloping downtown,” he said.
It can help attract businesses who are concerned about where their employees live, Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said afterward.
“The benefits seem to be for the people living there. They don’t hear those trains in the middle of the night when they’re sleeping,” she said.
Cobb Chamber chair Greg Morgan, a partner at accounting firm Mauldin & Jenkins, said the extra safety features of quiet zones make the city more attractive.
“You get a safer intersection and a quiet intersection,” he said.
The city is already attracting more residents and businesses, Allegood said, making Acworth the fastest-growing city in Cobb County.
Birrell said she didn’t see its 400 percent increase in population in 15 years as a problem.
“I don’t see it becoming overpopulated,” she said. “I think (Allegood) is on the right track for growth and boosting the economy. It’s very positive growth.”
Morgan said it will be “years” before overpopulation becomes a problem, but it must be addressed.
“You’ll have to deal with density and transportation,” he said.
Elected officials in attendance included Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, Rep. Ed Setzler, Acworth aldermen, Kennesaw city council members and county commissioners.