Chamblee, Georgia: Home Grown Industries and the New Faces of the Entrepreneurs

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Wilkins, Joy
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When Kodak and other Fortune 500 companies closed their plants in Chamblee, Georgia, it devastated the small city's economy. Chamblee began a process of "asset-based community development," but fell short of identifying its competitive advantage. The 1990 Census, however, revealed a unique asset - the large presence of hard-working, entrepreneurial immigrants and refugees. Nearly half of the residents in Chamblee were born outside of the United States. The city's leadership began to galvanize towards pursuing international development strategies, corresponding with the ensuing 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and the general observation that Chamblee was becoming more international in character. In 1994, Chamblee created two districts -- the Central Business District and the International Village. The Central Business District was formed to support and protect the city's historic town center while promoting the nationally recognized “Antique Row.” Chamblee created the International Village, a special redevelopment district surrounding its existing cluster of ethnically oriented businesses, to allow a mix of residential and commercial development within one zone. Through the establishment of the village and related services, Chamblee has reinvented itself by successfully supporting new and existing entrepreneurs while, at the same time, creating a desirable place to live for individuals of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
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