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News & Press: Chair's Column

Fall Musings

Tuesday, October 10, 2017   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly McLendon
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It is officially fall and we are turning the page on our last quarter of 2017.  However, in Savannah, it felt like summer for our Annual Conference.  Don’t we have a great organization in GEDA!  The 2017 Annual Conference, held two weeks ago in Savannah at the Hyatt Regency, is an example of this.  We had some notable speakers and lots of time for networking, not to mention the beautiful renovations to the Hyatt lobby and some very nice weather, just a week after Hurricane Irma made her presence known.

GEDA has some of the greatest sponsors around.  Special thanks go to our Presenting Sponsor, Savannah Economic Development Authority; Platinum Sponsors Athens-Clark County Department of Economic Development and GIS Web Tech.  Our Winners Circle and Champions Circle Sponsors are supportive all throughout the year.  See all those who supported us for our Annual Conference by clicking HERE

Thank you to Pat Merritt, GEDA’s Annual Conference Chair, as well as our Second Vice Chair and Vice President, Community and Economic Development, Georgia EMC, who did put forth tremendous effort, along with her Annual Conference Committee members, to host a great and memorable event. Highlights of the Conference were Aimee Copeland, our keynote speaker on Friday morning. If you missed this, you really lost out.  Aimee, a quadruple amputee, after a zip-line accident in May 2012, has come back strong.  She had the audience, laughing, thinking and sometimes in tears, sharing her experience and how she has overcome many of her disabilities with faith, perseverance and inspiration.  She certainly was a motivation to us all to keep on doing all that we can to be the best people we should, as well as to not pay attention to those who tell us we can’t, when we know well that we can. Thank you, Aimee, for your time with us. You are beautiful, in so many ways!

An intriguing scenario was presented by Jason Stein, Editor and Publisher of Automotive News, who showed Georgia’s prowess and promise in the automotive industry.  Other speakers who motivated us to collaborate, included Camila Knowles and Pat Wilson, Commissioners of the Georgia Departments of Community Affairs and Economic Development.  They interviewed each other and shared some good information as well as funny stories.  Griff Lynch, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) told us of the fast growth or Georgia’s Ports.  Griff was followed by another GPA employee, Bart Gobiel, who moderated a panel on rail transportation with Aubrey Brown of CSX, Kevin Phillips  of Genesee & Wyoming and William Tate of Norfolk Southern.  Chris Clark, President & CEO, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, updated us on Georgia 2030.  We were educated by some fine panelists on Foreign Direct Investment (Jim Blair, Chat Phillips and Carter Wood); Making Your School System a Partner (Dr. Barbara Wall, Matthew Gambill, Dr. Mark Scott, Angie Gheesling and David Tanner); and Growing Your Role in Talent Development (Brian Cooksey, Michael Fennell, Misti Martin, Justin Strickland, Matt Trice, and Greg Wilson).

We also had some fun with several optional activities on Thursday.  The weather cooperated and allowed us some beautiful weather.  There were 53 golfers enjoying The Club at Savannah Harbor, over 30 boaters who took in the sights of the Savannah River and Georgia’s Ports and fifteen of my colleagues who accompanied me on a Slow Ride through downtown Savannah.  From what I have heard, a good time was had by all. 

We all owe Pat thanks for her diligent efforts on our behalf.  We owe a special debt of gratitude to Chrissy Driggers, Casey Peters, and their interns at SEDA, who assisted Kelly with the registration desk duties during the conference.  Lastly, but certainly not least, thanks also go to our staff, who did a yeoman’s job: Kelly McLendon, our Manager, Member Services and Kevin Shea, President.

We have a strong bench of consultants for our October luncheon panel.  Plan now to attend on October 16th, if you haven’t already, to hear from Christine Bustamante of KPMG, Carol Henderson of Cushman & Wakefield and Mark G. Simmons of Parker Poe Consulting; moderated by Walt Farrell of Georgia Power, Chair of GEDA’s Business Recruitment Committee. 

I hope to see many of you at the October Consultants’ Panel and at our last meeting of the year in November on the 13th, where we’ll present our Annual Awards at the Georgia World Congress Center.


Pat Merritt says...
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Thanks, Kelly! Thank you to you and Kevin, as well!!

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