Mayor Belle Isle In Chambers

Belle Isle To Bid Farewell As Alpharetta Mayor

Released February 05, 2018 04:00 PM

February 13 will be a difficult day for Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle. That morning, during the annual State of the City Address, he will also offer his farewell remarks as he prepares to resign from the Office of Mayor effective February 21. Belle Isle will formally qualify as a candidate for Georgia Secretary of State in early March but must first walk away from his role as Mayor of Alpharetta.

“It will be an emotional day for me,” Belle Isle said. “I love Alpharetta, and being entrusted by my fellow Alpharettans to serve as their Mayor for the past six years has been a great honor that has meant more to me than I can truly express. It’s the best job I have ever had.”

First elected to the Alpharetta City Council in 2007, Belle Isle became Mayor in January 2012 and is in the midst of his second term in that office. Alpharetta’s term limits stipulate that the seat of Mayor can be held by the same individual for a maximum of two consecutive terms.

As Mayor, Belle Isle focused the City’s energies and resources on two overarching goals; making Alpharetta the hometown for all of its residents and establishing the North Fulton community as the Technology City of the South.

“A city is more than just a collection of buildings, roads, and people,” he explains. “At the core it is about heart and soul; the emotional connection that the people have to each other and to the larger community. Very few of the people who live in Alpharetta were born here or even grew up here, but that does not mean that they cannot have a love for this community that makes it their hometown; the place that they love and have a passion for unlike any other.”

To illustrate how connected Alpharetta residents have become to their community, Belle Isle points to Downtown Alpharetta.

“When I was first elected to City Council most residents could not tell someone where Downtown Alpharetta was. Very few people spent time there, and the sidewalks were rolled up and the district closed by nightfall. Today, the sidewalks are bustling most every evening, the restaurants are buzzing, and thousands of people turn out for even the smallest Downtown event. In 2016 we had literally hundreds of passionate people debating where a parking deck should be located in an area they did not even know existed just seven years before.”

Even while Belle Isle and the City Council were making soulful connections between the community and her residents, they were also shaping the city into a juggernaut of the technology economy. Now that Alpharetta is home to over 640 tech-based companies and is often talked about alongside traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley, that may not seem a daunting task. Yet, it began as little more than a bold challenge.

“Technology City of the South . . . I guess you could say that was my moonshot,” Belle Isle says with a chuckle. “All of the basic components were here; critical infrastructure, highly educated workforce, leading research universities close by, and a handful of influential technology companies that wanted to help grow the sector. We just needed a spark to ignite it all, so we created the Alpharetta Technology Commission, announced to the world that we were the Technology City of the South, and went to work.”

The Alpharetta Technology Commission, now the non-profit organization TECH Alpharetta, has been instrumental in the support and growth of the start-up tech scene through the creation of the TECH Alpharetta Innovation Center. The innovation center, which is now home to over 50 start-up tech businesses and entrepreneurs, has been sprouting tech companies since its opening in 2015.

TECH Alpharetta has been a voice for the tech community in other endeavors, as well. The board, made up of Alpharetta tech CEOs personally invited to serve by Mayor Belle Isle, championed several infrastructure projects to assess the robust fiber optic cable network and mobile broadband network areas of opportunity. This summer, TECH Alpharetta will launch its first ever technology conference in the new Alpharetta conference center at AVALON with Georgia’s first “AgTech of the South Conference.”

Under Mayor Belle Isle’s leadership, Alpharetta has won some of the largest economic development projects in metro Atlanta. The FISERV relocation in 2014 brought over 1,800 jobs to Alpharetta. January of 2017 marked the announcement of the largest corporate expansion project in the entire region with Jackson Healthcare building a $120 million expansion facility to add more than 1,400 new jobs in Alpharetta.

Now, looking in the rearview mirror, Belle Isle admits his visions sometimes tested the ability of those around him. He quickly points out, however, that he never doubted those visions would become reality.

“This is a community that will rise to any challenge,” he says. “The most important thing that I did as Mayor was to create opportunities for others to think big and take bold actions. If I have been successful in this job, and I truly hope that our citizens feel that I have been, it is only because of the efforts of the City Council and so many other Alpharetta leaders.”

In the end, when he turns out the lights in his City Hall office for the final time, Belle Isle says he hopes he has encouraged others to love Alpharetta as much as he does and that they continue to cast big visions for the community his family calls their hometown.