Atlanta BeltLine Measuring Equity and Inclusion to Track Impact on Key Quality of Life Metrics

Map will measure progress to ensure all people benefit and prosper from economic growth along the 22-mile trail

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is putting tools in place to make sure that Atlantans along the 22-mile trail are benefitting and prospering from the economic growth it is spurring across the city.

“Social equity and inclusion have always been at the center of the Atlanta BeltLine’s vision,” said Atlanta BeltLine Inc. CEO & President Clyde Higgs. “This new tool is here to keep track and help us pivot if we need to as we continue our progress.”

From its inception, the Atlanta BeltLine has sought to reclaim and repurpose physical infrastructure that had long divided Atlanta neighborhoods along divisions of race and class. The Atlanta BeltLine’s equity and inclusion vision is that: “All legacy residents, new residents, and business owners – regardless of age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, ability, income, or political ideology – benefit and prosper from the economic growth and activity associated with the Atlanta BeltLine.”

ABI is launching a new digital map to measure progress toward the equity and inclusion vision in several key areas – housing affordability, economic development, transit access, inclusion, and quality of life. The data for the new Investment Data Explorer comes from publicly available sources such as the American Community Survey, as well as ABI-initiated surveys to understand the shifts, trends, and impact of BeltLine work.

“The goal is to demonstrate the Atlanta BeltLine’s progress and results over time,” Higgs added. “This information will help us as we continue implementing efforts around affordable housing, small business support, and commercial affordability, as well as our infrastructure.”

The Investment Data Explorer is the second in a set of data-driven tools developed as part of a multi-phased partnership with Neighborhood Nexus. The Demographic Data Explorer, which debuted in June 2020, in conjunction with the Investment Data Explorer help track progress toward project goals and flag demographic and economic trends that may require policy intervention.

“Collecting and understanding data is key to illuminating inequities, developing solutions, and charting a clear path to action,” said Nonet Sykes, ABI’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer.

The Investment Data Explorer tracks specific investment categories, to include: housing, parks and trails, transit and streetscapes, economic development, and arts and culture. The full investment map, aggregated to the project subareas, can be viewed here.

Both the Demographic and Investment Data Explorer tools are designed to support ABI’s equity and inclusion vision, inform the public, and promote transparency and accountability. Everyone is encouraged to use the tool, whether conducting research or studying the investments and impacts in one’s own neighborhood.

ABI and Neighborhood Nexus also launched a series of StoryMaps to share the impact of equity efforts using data, images, and community narratives. Stories of affordable housing, community engagement, economic impact, and greenspace are available here.

Robust data is essential to informing decisions and developing strategies that build an equitable economy. By tracking socioeconomic indicators and ABI investments in each of the 10 subareas across the BeltLine Planning Area, ABI identified four Equity Priority Subareas – areas that appear particularly vulnerable to gentrification and displacement.

The BeltLine Planning Area covers nearly 15,000 acres within the City of Atlanta and approximately one-half mile on either side of the BeltLine corridor. The four Equity Priority Subareas include neighborhoods in west, southwest, and south Atlanta.

In March 2021, Atlanta City Council approved the creation of a Special Service District (SSD) to fund the completion of the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine trail corridor. In accordance with ABI’s equity and inclusion priorities, the passage of the SSD will enable up to $45 million in additional affordable housing funds, up to $12 million in additional small business support, and up to $150 million in construction and design funds targeted towards minority-owned contractors. Completion of the trail corridor is expected to deliver a total economic impact of $10 billion and approximately 50,000 permanent jobs for the City of Atlanta.

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