The success of an initiative to create an international arts and entertainment district in DeKalb County’s International Corridor depends on the business community to partner with county government, said Chris Lazar, director of government and cultural affairs for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce at a May 3 meeting.

“We’re looking for the private sector to come forward with initiatives that will create an expanded shopping experience. Adding retail capacity will be one of our top goals,” he said.

With 700 immigrant-owned businesses, the corridor has emerged as the largest concentration of ethnic populations in the Southeast.

The retail development project along Buford Highway has generated interest from the South African American Business Association of the USA Inc., the Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce and the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, along with the DeKalb County Office of Economic Development and the DeKalb County Planning Department.

The governments of Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Guatemala, Russia and Thailand were also represented at the meeting, as well as local commercial developers.

Demonstrating DeKalb County’s willingness to facilitate commercial development, Economic Development Director Maria Mullins stated that demographic research on any designated area in the county is available upon request within 10 days.

DeKalb County Planning Director Ray White discussed the option of creating overlay districts to ease zoning restrictions and allow mixed-use, high-density development.

DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones solicited input on the initiative from meeting attendees. “We want to create a dynamic partnership to move this project forward,” he said.

“Within the next 30 days, we will begin forming committees charged with turning CEO Jones’ vision of a new DeKalb international tourism destination into a reality,” said Ms. Mullins.

Call Kelly Conn with the DeKalb County Office of Economic Development at 404-687-2738 for more information.