The city of Sandy Springs will serve as a “living laboratory” for Kennesaw State University researchers in a partnership announced by Mayor Rusty Paul on Sept. 15.

Mayor Rusty Paul said the city and KSU had been working on the collaboration for months, with the pandemic causing some delays.

Paul said that the city is in Georgia State University territory for collaboration, but that university didn’t offer businesses classes in the community. KSU was approached and began teaching master of business administration courses and offered an MBA certificate program on the City Springs campus.

“I had a brilliant idea… Why don’t we invite them to use Sandy Springs as an urban laboratory?” he said.

The collaboration would give the city free consulting work that would “help us stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Paul said.

KSU and the city will decide what projects to undertake that align with classroom objectives and provide innovative solutions for Sandy Springs. The organizations are considering programs like Smart Street Design to select test sites for improving transit, passenger vehicles and active transportation. A Streamside Property Ownership Outreach program might help educate the community about stream buffers. Another project might create a business and marketing plan for CityBar at City Springs.

Paul said he sat in a meeting with every department head in KSU to discuss the collaboration, and they were excited about the partnership. It’s not only a great boost for the city, he said, but 41,000 future researchers can come into the community.

The City Council approved the memorandum of understanding with KSU to build on the existing collaboration at its Sept. 15 meeting.

The final agreement will probably take another six to eight months, he said.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to serve as a living laboratory aligning classroom research with real-world challenges, with both the student body and the Sandy Springs community benefitting from the process,” said Paul.

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with the City of Sandy Springs and look forward to creating mutually beneficial opportunities for our students, faculty, and the members of the community,” said Kennesaw State’s Vice President for Research Phaedra Corso in a release.

KSU’s Michael J. Coles College of Business currently offers an MBA program and an executive certificate in business strategy from classrooms located at City Springs.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.