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In the Spotlight: Johns Creek, Georgia

Posted by Martin Archacki on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 9:29am.

in the spotlight john creek gaThe community of Johns Creek is very new but at the same time very old. The ancestral home of the Cherokee Indian nation, the first incursions of European influence came in the form of the trading posts that dotted the banks of the Chattahoochee River, now a popular kayaking spot. It's appropriate that the site of America's first gold rush would develop into some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the entire country. Johns Creek is a city of over 76 000 combining to earn the 13th highest average income in the nation. Let's take a look back at the unique journey as this community moved from a frontier trader's colony to a thriving hot bed of Fortune 500 elite.

Turning back the Clock

Back in the 19th century, the only sign of European society at all were the few trading posts that were set up to trade with the Cherokee Nation that made their homes there. Those trading posts would slowly develop into settlements set along the crossroads and river-crossings. The discovery of gold in the 1820s would lead to America's very first gold rush and ultimately one of the saddest episodes in our nation's history, setting the stage for the notorious ejection of the Cherokee nation from the area to reserves set up in Oklahoma and western states in the aptly named Trail of Tears.

The Modern Era

For a long period of time the area that would remain a large tract of unincorporated land that would change hands from the expansive Cherokee County, then Milton County and, after it was dissolved shortly after the Great Depression, to its present resting place in Fulton County. Only notable for a few rural communities that dotted the expansive landscape, the county provided education and some infrastructure to the growing but sparse population.

That was until the early 1980s when a group of Georgia Institute of Technology students purchased a large tract of land amounting to 1700 acres. They created a Technology Park in the area that was meant to mirror a similar one created in the city of Atlanta, 10 years previous. Since that time, the area has become host to some 200 companies, many of them Fortune 500 companies. A 6 million square foot office complex now houses somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 000 people. With such a massive influx of industry, the population of region ballooned to well over 60 000 people as professionals moved into the area for work, along with their families.

The Transition to City Status

Rarely does rapid development occur in one place all at once. Most notable cities have long history of transitioning from hamlet to village, then village to town and finally, town to city. With such a massive influx of industry and population, Johns Creek was able to bypass many of those steps on its way to becoming a full-fledged city.

Starting as a grassroots movement at the dawn of the 21st century, residents were becoming frustrated with the lack of control that they had over the city's services and wanted more control over infrastructure and development. A proposal was put to a referendum and city status was ultimately granted. In 2006, Johns Creek would officially be incorporated into a city.

As a unique side note, with no city infrastructure or administration to speak of, the city was forced to outsource the majority of its operations from the outset. For the first 2 years of its existence, the city of Johns Creek's only city employees were the city manager and a few other important posts, the rest were outsourced to CH2M HILL, a private management company, with the exception of fire and police services. Rarely has such complete management of such a large city been undertaken by a private corporation. 2008 would see the development of the Johns Creek's own Police and Fire Departments.

Now one of the country's most affluent cities, Johns Creek saw rapid growth and a unique journey towards cityhood.

 

 

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