When East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham came to the city in August 2010, she had no intention of occupying a political office. But falling in a and the people caused her to forge ahead with a life of public service, and never look back. Three years later, she found herself running for city council. She came in as a newcomer and managed to engage the community. So much so that in January 2018,
she started her term as the city’s mayor. She is now at the forefront of a city on the cutting edge of growth and development in the Atlanta area. Through a spirit of cooperation, determination to do what’s best for the city, growth and revitalization, Mayor Holiday Ingraham is leading the city of East Point through its most profound economic upswing to date.
The change in East Point’s landscape is the result of a methodical approach of letting every voice be heard on every level. A lack of forward momentum previously kept the area from development on a larger scale.
“There were developers who would not come back into the city,” Holiday Ingraham states. “They weren’t interested because of the lack of working together.” She continues, “I would say, the higher echelons of city government weren’t operating as a cohesive unit. And the city as a whole was suffering. The voters wanted change in the city.” Holiday Ingraham notes, “we had to rebrand the city. We had to position ourselves to be something different than what people were used to.” That change came in the form of unification. “This council and I agree that what’s most important is that we all care about East Point and its residents.”
That attitude of cooperation became a launching pad … for meetings with many of those same developers who left, for flourishing jobs and opportunities for city residents, and for a burgeoning, robust downtown area. Actively partnering with the Aerotropolis Alliance, along with close proximity to the airport, has caused a beneficial spotlight to shine on East Point. Working with Aerotropolis has led to jobs in construction, as well as a variety of work-ready programs, being more accessible to East Point residents.
“It greatly impacts economic development. People are paying attention to South Fulton now. And I believe East Point is a jewel city with the best amenities and the best opportunities,” explains Holiday Ingraham.
The proximity to the airport increases the city’s visibility, causing it to become more of a destination for dining, shopping and entertainment. And the uptick in traffic translates to an uptick in customer service job opportunities.
“Our hospitality industry is growing, (and) we’re getting more hotels,” Holiday Ingraham states.
Camp Creek Marketplace continues to be a strong asset both economically and developmentally for the area as well. Partnerships on every level are proving advantageous.
“Being able to think in that way and partner in that way helps us to build a system to ensure that things aren’t just happening to us, (but) that we are being engaged in the future and charting a path.”
Another growing industry spurring growth in the East Point economy is film.
“We have quite a few businesses that have come in the film area.” Holiday Ingraham continues, “we are really becoming a spot for real quality filming. And we’re excited about that.”
East Point has been designated as one of Fulton County’s “Camera Ready” communities by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Film, Music and Digital Entertainment Office. Property owners can register their land or home to be used as a potential film location. Cast and crew associated with a production bring in business with dining and lodging needs. In fact, the city is in the process of negotiating common ground on the issue of short-term rentals, a potential income source which is also a potential cause for concern in residential areas.
“It’s important to me that people on both sides realize there are people on the other side,” Holiday Ingraham states.
Small businesses are also contributing to the thriving business climate, and at the same time causing additional doors of opportunity to open.
“Smalls businesses are the heart of the community,” she explains. “They help people take care of their families but also provide jobs to help other people.” Even the proliferation of virtual employment has impacted East Point. “There are a lot of people who are doing businesses from their homes … who, with the right training, with the right network, resources, capital and knowledge, could grow. We are really committed to that.”
Holiday Ingraham and her team are also committed to building up their city internally. A major part of that is their downtown revitalization project.
“We are building a new government center which is a little under $16 million investment for us. But that’s us investing in ourselves. We want you to come and grow with us and be a part of the community, and we believe our soil is so fertile that we’re investing in ourselves,” Holiday Ingraham explains.
Construction on their new city hall facility is slated for completion in April, and it will come in at a little under 32,000 square feet. It will have office space for the mayor and staff, as well as a multipurpose city council chamber and house a number of other departments. A huge attraction will be the amphitheater, which is slated to hold thousands of people. That feature, says Holiday Ingraham, is one of the most attractive to her.
“While business will be conducted there, it will be a building for our community.”
A splash pad with a play area for children and families aims to be an attraction for area residents. “It’s exciting and I think it’s symbolic of what you can do when you work together.”
The city is also preparing for mixed-use development projects. Creating spaces that cater to a live/work/play environment is high on the agenda for Holiday Ingraham.
“We’ve purchased a little under 9 acres across the street from city hall that will be put in the mixed-use development. So those projects will be catalytic to creating this downtown experience that we’ll have in our city.” Holiday Ingraham notes that both she and city council are committed to equitable revitalization. “We’re focusing on our downtown… building our skyline, building a place for people to really work, as they learn and play. And to be able to enjoy our city.”