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20 February 2014

South Fulton County is Destined to Die Due to Its Deficit of Young Professionals

Wednesday night, I had a state Representative call me to discuss a bill she's co-sponsoring; and I took the opportunity to tell her that in the community I live in, south Fulton County, we have a serious deficit of young professionals.

That deficit starts with the elected officials, where most are in their fifties, pushing sixty.

Each graduate from Banneker, Creekside, Langston Hughes, and Tri-Cities high schools that walks away from south Fulton every year, never to return, will represent a footstep closer to the community's grave.
State Representative Sharon Beasley-Teague, for example, is 61. State Senator Donzella James is 65. College Park Mayor Jack Longino is 60. Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards is 63.

Even the leaders of the nascent movement to create the city of South Fulton are over fifty years of age, approaching sixty.

South Fulton United President Benny Crane is 57. Harold Reid, South Fulton United's second-in-command, is 66.

Where are the young people? Where are the young professionals? Where are the next generation of south Fulton County leaders?

The young professionals were ran off by the old folks who want to hold on to their glory for just a little while longer. And while I respect the contributions of the older generation, there comes a point in time when they have to know when to take a bow and step off the damn stage.

A community without young people and young professionals is a community with a death sentence. It's that plain, and it's that simple. I see it everyday when I walk the streets of South Fulton County. South Fulton is dying.

I graduated from Creekside High School in 2002. I watched as many of my friends and classmates walked across that stage at graduation, left their parents' home, and never came back. Most of the people I attended high school with no longer live in south Fulton. There's nothing to keep them in south Fulton. There's nothing to attract them or their friends to south Fulton County. I, quite literally, am the only one left. And it's entirely by choice.

My mother, who is pushing 70, started a real estate business in the 1980s. After about thirty-plus years of running the business herself, my mom all but turned the day-to-day operations over to me. We have tenants in Stone Mountain, Marietta, Sandy Springs, and Peachtree City. All I have to do is give the tenants a 60-day notice that their lease will not be renewed; and when they move out, I can move in.

Point is, I don't have to live in south Fulton. I can leave in about a minimum of three months. I want to live in south Fulton, but my patience is wearing thin.

Why?

Because the aging south Fulton establishment is not focused on attracting young professionals. The focus of South Fulton's aging establishment is to keep fighting the tired, worn-out battles from yesteryear in a vain attempt to relive past success.

Young professionals are the lifeblood of the future. With them, a community can remain vital and vibrant. Without them, a community becomes stale and stagnant.

South Fulton has become stale and stagnant because these old heads simply don't know when to hang it up. These old folks like Benny Crane, Harold Reid, Sharon Beasley-Teague, and Donzella James don't know when the time has come for them to assume the role of elder statesmen, and let the young folks come in to run the day-to-day operations.

Something has got to change.

South Fulton County is aging and destined to die out, but destiny can be changed. A man can change his stars. If radical changes designed to bring young professionals back to south Fulton occur, we can make the community vital and vibrant again.

Otherwise, our fate is sealed. Each graduate from Banneker, Creekside, Langston Hughes, and Tri-Cities high schools that walks away from south Fulton every year, never to return, will represent a footstep closer to the community's grave.