Mar 25, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
On 2 March, Arthur Campbell (MCP ’70) was honored by Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning as a distinguished alumnus for his service in community and economic development during the school’s 60th anniversary celebration.
Mr. Campbell brought his penchant for public speaking, honed behind a church pulpit in a small Alabama farming community, first to Tuskegee Institute where he received a B.S. in architecture and then to graduate school at Georgia Tech. While at Tech, he translated his knack for public speaking into a capacity for writing. Two of his former classmates, present at the award presentation, heralded his work ethic as the reason why he developed into the best writer in the class by the time they graduated in 1970. Fitting with his career, Mr. Campbell’s graduation from Georgia Tech with a Masters in City Planning was no small milestone. He holds the distinct honor of being not only the first African-American to receive a graduate degree from Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning, but from the university as a whole.
Following a trailblazing academic career, Mr. Campbell left an equally noteworthy professional footprint that included roles as County Commissioner of Hamilton County, TN, Southeast Program Director for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Florida President of ER Enterprises, Chairman of the Board of the Housing Assistance Council, and Southeast Area Director for the Farmers Home Administration. In 1986, Mr. Campbell founded ACC Development, a planning and development consulting business based in Chattanooga, and served as CEO through 1995. The following year, Mr. Campbell transitioned back to public service when he accepted an appointment as Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Four years later, President Clinton tapped Campbell for the position of Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the Department of Commerce in which he was the principal adviser to Secretary Norman Y. Mineta on economic development issues within the United States.
Mr. Campbell used his Senate confirmation hearing for the position of Assistant Secretary of Commerce as an opportunity to express his views on the role of economic development:
“Economic equality is a public good. Society is more stable and stronger when its people are able to fulfill their basic human aspirations. I believe that economic development that produces broadly-shared prosperity is in the public interest and that achievement of such prosperity is a public purpose.”
It was this compassionate and progressive view of economic development that Mr. Campell applied to his work. Secretary Mineta once noted that Mr. Campbell’s distinguished career gave him the “first-hand knowledge necessary to help our Nation’s distressed communities best achieve sustainable economic futures.” Mr. Campbell’s more than 30 years of contributions to the field of planning not only made him a valuable ally to distressed communities across the country and to those “left behind” in traditional economic development, but also a make him a model for future planners.