The mayor of Suwanee, Jimmy Burnette, has received the Georgia Cities Foundation’s 2022 Starr Award.

The award, which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contributions toward creating a unique and vibrant environment in the downtown area of a Georgia city, was presented to Burnette during the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual convention on Monday, June 27, in Savannah, Georgia.

“Mayor Burnette has provided long-term leadership and vision as Suwanee has grown into a regional leader in all areas of smart managed growth, downtown development, and open spaces,” Suwanee Economic Development Manager Chris Hardin said in a news release announcing the award. “He is always thinking about what is next, how to improve, and how to bring people along.”

Burnette has served as mayor since 2012 and previously served as a Suwanee City Council member from 1996 to 2011. He was a charter member of the Downtown Development Authority, serving for 12 years until he was elected mayor. Burnette regularly served as the liaison between the DDA and city council, “forging consensus to continuously grow, develop, and foster a vibrant environment in downtown Suwanee.”

Pierce’s Corner, one of the city’s oldest structures that has been rehabilitated in the original city center, was a project for which Burnette advocated. According to the city, he has also been involved in every Comprehensive and Downtown Master Plan for the last 25-plus years. The most recent project, the redesign of Buford Highway into a walkable boulevard, is nearing its completion.

“Rather than resisting inevitable change, Mayor Burnette chooses instead to embrace and guide change for the greatest benefit to our community,” Hardin said. “He has presented a vision of unique and vibrant growth for the City of Suwanee, and has fostered that vision over the years by bringing together community, business, and civic leaders in the city.”

The Starr Award is presented annually in memory of Mike Starr, who served as the Georgia Cities Foundation’s president for two decades until his death in 2019.

“The Georgia Cities Foundation seeks to create this permanent legacy in Starr’s memory by celebrating those who emulate his best traits: visionary, innovator, servant leader, and champion for downtowns,” the news release said.

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