Organizations: Central Atlanta Progress
Municipal Mission: Way back in 1941, when the city of Atlanta was just beginning to flex its muscles as a state and regional powerhouse, a group of concerned downtown businessmen met to determine issues of collective interest that they could work on together on behalf of the entire community, says A.J. Robinson, current president of the resulting organization, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP).
Broader Focus: “Part of that mission is still with us today in that a lot of what we do is advocate to everyone on behalf of the business community, not only downtown Atlanta … but really on behalf of everyone because most of our issues affect the entire city and the entire region and to some extent, the state,” Robinson says. “Despite all the fragmentation and growth of Atlanta out into the mega-region, this is still the heart not only of the region, but in some respects of the whole Southeast economy.”
Paving The Way: Among the organization’s biggest challenges, Robinson says, is “getting people to understand in the rest of the region and the rest of the state that they have a vested interest in what goes on here.” Much of the metro area is going through a lot of the issues that downtown Atlanta went through in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, he says. “We really are a laboratory for the rest of the surrounding areas.”
Worthy Causes: In addition to overseeing the Ambassador Force, which provides information for tourists and natives alike, and the Clean Team, which keeps the streets tidy, CAP is involved in the Atlanta Beltline and the Peachtree Corridor Partnership. It also supports the Center for Civil & Human Rights; and its Give Change that Makes Sense program, a joint effort with several civic entities, aims to put an end to panhandling and get homeless people off the streets.
Thinking Green: Perhaps CAP’s biggest project, Robinson says, is still in the planning stages. The Green Line would transform the area currently known as “the railroad gulch” into a linear park ringed with multi-use development running from the state capitol to the Georgia Dome. A multi-modal passenger terminal would replace the Five Points MARTA station.
Join The Cause: CAP’s membership stands at about 300, ranging from one-person law or accounting firms to international giants such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot and UPS. “We encourage anybody to join who feels they believe in our mission,” Robinson says.