Since 2005, Georgia STAND-UP has been a tireless advocate for community benefit agreements in the Atlanta region. Thanks to that persistence, one of the most closely watched public finance deals in Georgia history will produce both a new Falcons football stadium to replace the Georgia Dome, and a precedent-setting requirement that no public money be released until a community benefits agreement is in place.
In the works for more than 3 years, the stadium deal originally called for funding through the State of Georgia, but negative public reaction forced the state legislature to back off. Then the City of Atlanta stepped up. But poor, minority neighborhoods victimized by promises broken after the building of the Georgia Dome 20 years earlier, demanded a strong, enforceable agreement to ensure that residents benefitted from construction of the new stadium.
When deliberations among the city, the community, and Falcons representatives got underway, STAND-UP was called on to provide expertise in negotiating community benefits linked to public financing of private ventures.
The result included a provision that Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, would not issue any bonds for stadium construction until a community benefits agreement was adopted. This condition, insisted upon by STAND-UP and its community partners, ensured that the Georgia Dome scenario would not be repeated.
The specific benefits recommended include construction related jobs offering livable wages and benefits, job training for disadvantaged residents, small business opportunities, housing and recreational investments in surrounding areas, and assurances that long-term residents will not be displaced as revitalization occurs.