During his State of the City address, Allegood compared Acworth today with the city in 1998.
“In 1998, Main Street had Piggly Wiggly and the Two Dollar Café,” he said. “Now businesses and restaurants line Main Street.”
Home Depot came to the city 15 years ago, when nothing else was in the area except a Kroger, he said.
“Now every major retailer has moved to our city,” he said.
The population has jumped 400 percent from 6,000 to 23,000 people, allowing for the city officials to focus on building a better quality of life, Allegood said. Part of that process was balancing the budget to shift the tax breakdown from 90 percent residential to 60 percent.
“In order for economic development, you have to have the right population,” Allegood said. “People want to live here for specific reasons.”
The demographics have changed from 80 percent white 15 years ago to 62 percent white today, and black and Hispanic populations have doubled since then, he said.
In the last 15 years, Acworth has focused on improving education, recreation, community diversity, city services, church leadership, business and community safety, Allegood said.
In recognition of educational enhancements, Allegood said that Acworth schools boasted high ACT and SAT scores and state champion athletic teams last year.
To embrace diversity, the city held its first Menorah lighting and first Martin Luther King Jr. celebration last year. They’ve also welcomed new senior facilities to account for an aging population.
“Last year we had 455 special needs participants at Horizon Field, and all of them have a buddy,” Allegood said of the special-needs park in the city. “There are about 2,600 high school kids who volunteer at the field.”
Allegood said 90 new businesses opened in Acworth last year, and this year’s growth includes the first giant-sized “Xtreme Screen” NCG theater in the state.
“You can’t stop growth if you’ve got a place people want to live and work,” Allegood said. “But we’re managing the growth.”