ACWORTH – Standing before a crowd of hundreds at the Acworth Community Center on Thursday, Mayor Tommy Allegood was in high spirits as he ran down a list of accomplishments for the city.
“You’re welcome in Acworth,” Allegood told his audience, reciting the tagline for his address. “And that’s what we’re here to celebrate today.”
Allegood’s upbeat presentation was keen to recognize the work of the city’s business community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said was instrumental in aiding the recovery on a local level. In particular, he thanked the Cobb Chamber of Commerce for helping to secure over $1 million in aid for small businesses, and recognized the City Council for distributing half of its CARES Act money to business relief.
Crime, he added, is down 24% in the city with property values up 10% — a municipal leader’s dream come true. Even in assessing the less pleasant aspects of the pandemic, Allegood’s outlook remained decidedly optimistic.
“Unprecedented — how many times have we heard that during the last 12 months?” he said. “Well, you see, what we did here in our community early on, we began to adapt, we prayed. And we realized that we were being blessed as a community in a very special way. We were blessed to really experience our very best year.”
The mayor pointed to a number of new business ventures as signs of Acworth’s growing attraction for commerce and development. He singled out the Red Top Brewhouse and 1885 Grill as anchors of the downtown business district, “The Heritage” and “The Logan” as exciting mixed-use developments, and a forthcoming Amazon distribution center as a sign of support from national business interests.
Special purpose local option sales tax projects were also praised by Allegood as essential to Acworth’s success.
“Ladies and gentlemen, without SPLOST our community would not look the way it looks today,” he said, adding that the city will have received over $160 million in funding from the tax by the time the next six-year SPLOST cycle, which begins in 2022, is complete.
But bustling business and infrastructure weren’t all Allegood wanted to talk about. He spoke at length about the need to bring all of the city’s residents into its community. “You’re welcome in Acworth,” he said, isn’t just a message for entrepreneurs and developers.
“We believe that we are going to deliver life-changing leadership … leadership that never says ‘I.’ Leadership that always says ‘We.’ It’s all about having inclusive leadership, making sure that we’re including everybody in our leadership.”
To that end, Allegood pointed to a “community conversation” the city organized to listen to the concerns of minority business owners, and the opening of Doyal Hill Park last fall, which features interpretive signage about the history of Acworth’s Black community and is named for the city’s first Black elected official.
Asked for his impressions after the speech, Mack Turner of Save Acworth History said, “Oh, I thought it was great,” before turning the question over to Councilman Tim Richardson, with whom Turner was chatting.
“The mayor always does a great job of always keeping all of our community partners informed, and recognizing all their efforts through the year,” Richardson said. “I think the city’s reaction to the COVID pandemic, and that we were able to keep services going throughout the pandemic — that’s serving our citizens.”