Mayor Kasim Reed
Mayor Kasim Reed

Mayor Kasim Reed delivered his annual State of the City address to more than 900 business and community leaders Feb. 22, reaffirming his commitment to enhanced public safety, fiscal stability and especially, investment in young people.

During the power breakfast, Coca-Cola Company CEO Muhtar Kent, who co-hosted the breakfast, announced his company will invest $1 million in the “Centers of Hope,” Reed’s vision for transforming the city’s 33 recreation centers into neighborhood havens where young people can strengthen their academic skills, engage in robust physical fitness and sports activities, and develop positive character traits and values.

“Coca-Cola’s generosity will ensure that our recreation centers have the funding they need to remain open and make a difference in the lives of our young people,” Reed said. “With this gift, we will begin the process of turning our recreation centers into Centers of Hope.”

Reed added: “I promised Atlantans that I would do more than be tough on crime. We also must be smart on crime. I believe that by giving young people opportunities today, we can help prevent them from making bad decisions that lead to a life of crime tomorrow.”

The $1 million gift from Coca-Cola will be used to fund pilot programs at two recreation center sites, enabling Reed and other city leaders to better determine the type of programming, activities and metrics that will best fit into the after-school model envisioned for the Centers of Hope.

Reed also unveiled a new citywide initiative to put unemployed residents back to work. “Hire One Atlanta,” a public-private partnership between the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and several local businesses.

“Hire One Atlanta is a campaign that encourages every business in the city to hire at least one new employee,” Reed said. “If each company makes a commitment to participate, the Hire One initiative will put approximately 100,000 unemployed people back to work.”

During the speech at the downtown Hilton, Mayor Reed reported that the City of Atlanta hired 259 new police officers during 2010, and that the police academy is currently training 120 recruits. The other co-host was Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting and chairman of the Atlanta Committee for Progress.

The mayor heralded the recent award of the S.A.F.E.R. federal funds from the Department of Homeland Security and F.E.M.A. to the City of Atlanta’s Fire Rescue Department. The nearly $10 million award will be used to hire 75 new firefighters.

Reed also reaffirmed his commitment to fiscally responsible government.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.