A high-profile developer who has garnered success in Atlanta and beyond still holds dear his connection to his alma mater and hometown. Jim Borders now hails from Buckhead, but still maintains the family homeplace in rural Carroll County as a retreat from big city life.
The 1979 honor graduate is the 16th recipient of the Carrollton High School Distinguished Alumni Award, presented April 18 night at the CHS Academic Achievement Awards program held in the Mabry Center for the Arts.
Borders is a second-generation Trojan, the son of 1946 graduate Verne Borders and his wife Joan Borders, who was a long-time member of the CHS faculty as an English teacher and later as the school’s librarian.
Borders first demonstrated his leadership ability as a Carrollton High School student and continued down a deliberate path that included significant stops along the way – first as a mechanical engineering graduate from Georgia Tech, to the University of Georgia where he simultaneously earned a juris doctor degree and MBA that prepped him for a career with the prestigious Atlanta law firm King & Spalding.
“These experiences provided a complementary collection of skill sets that prepared him well for the world of real estate,” said Carrollton City Schools superintendent, Dr. Mark Albertus, who presented Borders for the award.
Mr. Borders is president and CEO of Novare Group, a firm that has evolved from investing in self-storage facilities and office buildings when it was founded in 1992 to the development of apartments and condominiums and adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
In 2002, the company entered a partnership to develop its first high-rise project, Metropolis, which has been widely credited with sparking residential demand that helped transform Midtown Atlanta. The company has continued to focus its activity on high-rise mixed-use communities and has developed more than 12,900 multifamily units in 39 high-rise buildings in major markets across the country.
Mr. Borders serves on several business and development boards, including for Brand Properties, the Buckhead Coalition, Midtown Alliance, Central Atlanta Progress, Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures, Tanner Medical Foundation, and is a trustee of the Georgia Tech Foundation. He has been recognized three times with lifetime achievement awards, most recently by the Urban Land Institute in 2015. Under Borders’ leadership, Novare Group has been recognized with two ULI Project of the Year Awards and three Projects of Excellence.
During his remarks in accepting the CHS Distinguished Alumni Award, Borders addressed the students on the stage who were being honored for their exceptional academic achievements. He told them “80 percent of success is showing up” and how, along with that, their work ethic will determine their future. He also noted having high aspirations is not a bad thing.
“Sometimes I feel it is not popular today to be ambitious and I want to urge you to be ambitious,” Borders continued. “I believe all of us have some sort of a fear of failure and sometimes that causes us not be be as ambitious. But if you would just go ahead and be ambitious and use that fear of failure in your favor to accomplish what you set as your goal, it is going to work really well for you.”
Borders also acknowledged that sometimes failure is not just a fear but a reality, citing his own experiences in real estate during the Great Recession.
“I had some well-publicized setbacks,” he said. “I’ve had some good times and bad times, but during all of those times, keep your family and your faith and your community close to you. They will support you during the bad times and be there when it is time to celebrate.”
Borders closed his comments with the simple, but impactful, words of country music legend Tim McGraw:
“Always be humble and kind,” he advised the students.
Borders joins other distinguished alumni who have been recognized through this initiative. Launched in 2012, the program to date has honored 15 other exceptional CHS graduates: Edith Foster, Class of 1922; Albert Jones and J. Steward Martin, Class of 1930; J.Willis Hurst, Class of 1937; E.C. “Sonny” Bass, Class of 1938; Hollis Harris, Class of 1949; John H. Burson, Class of 1951; Richard M. Ingle, Class of 1964; D. Garvin Byrd, Class of 1969; Jane Crosson, Class of 1974; William Crosson, Class of 1976; Scott Deviney, Class of 1989; James C. Pope, Class of 1962; Shereta Williams, Class of 1992; and honorary alumnus W.W. Fitts, who was a founding member of the Carrollton Board of Education.