July 21 Transform Westside Summit Recap

A Conversation with
Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

At our July 21 Transform Westside Summit, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy sat down with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to discuss his experience as mayor and his initiatives for Atlanta’s historic Westside.

“I love Atlanta. I have loved this city the entire time,” said Reed, who shared knowing at the age of 14 he wanted to be a mayor, ordering his life by writing 5-year goals on 3 x 5 index cards. “Everything I dreamed about as a boy has happened for me.”

When Cathy asked Mayor Reed how his time as mayor has changed him, he explained how building a family has made a significant impact on his life and his leadership.

“It has made me a better man and a more focused person. With my job, you have a set end date, which keeps you focused. Then to add the element of having a wife and a daughter while in office, I am a much better man, because I am a husband and a father,” said Reed. “I have greater empathy, I think more about children, but more specifically it has made me think about the challenges families face.”

Mayor Reed also highlighted accomplishments during his time in office, including eight years of no tax increases, eight years with no water rate increases, and a 36 percent decrease in crime.

“I think what has happened in Atlanta is we focused on the fundamentals,” said Reed. “If you go through the list of projects we have talked about today, the city of Atlanta has been the essential factor in almost all of them, including setting up the Westside Future Fund, the expansion of Proctor Creek, and the financing the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which really triggered all of this.”

Reed cited many more positive changes underway for Atlanta’s Westside, including new infrastructure, new parks, more transit, the Atlanta BeltLine, and education and security initiatives. All in place to help ensure the Westside will thrive.

“There is no city in America that has come up with a private solution that guarantees a homeowner’s increase in their property taxes will be paid. No city in America is doing that,” said Reed. “The one message I want you all to take from this is don’t sell your homes. If you own a home or live in this part of the city don’t give it away.”

“I want us to achieve what London, San Francisco and New York have not, where regular people live in the city amongst the wealthy,” Reed said. “Rising tide should lift all boats, not just yachts.”

Cathy and Mayor Reed expressed their desire to see the Westside community enjoy the benefits of a growing, prosperous side of Atlanta.

“We are going places we have never been,” said Cathy. “I appreciate your challenge, Mayor Reed, to defy gravity. I know there are a lot of naysayers; I, for one, am staying committed to defying gravity.”

To view our full July 21 Summit photo gallery, click here. The entire interview can also be viewed here.

The Westside Future Fund’s Transform Westside Summit is held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month and is free and open to the public. Registration for future Summits is available on the main Events page of our website.