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News & Press: Chair's Column

Giving Thanks for a Great Year

Wednesday, December 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Anna Chafin
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As we come to the end of 2017, I would like to take this opportunity to focus on a few key accomplishments and initiatives and thank some very special people who have helped make this a great year for GEDA. 

The organization is in a very strong financial position thanks to our hard-working staff, Kevin and Kelly, and our board of directors who have made sound decisions, which was highlighted by the success of Annual Conference this year that was planned by our Second Vice Chair Pat Merritt (Georgia EMC).  In addition, the Sponsorship Committee led by Jessica Hood (Development Authority of Burke County), once again exceeded expectations and raised funds to help us produce successful events.

I sincerely appreciate Meghan Duke (city of West Point), chair of the Young Professionals Committee, going above and beyond this year to engage a very important sector of our membership, the 40 and under group.  The inaugural Meet the Team event, Coffee with the Commissioner series, and Top Golf events were all extremely well attended and received rave reviews.

Al Nash (Development Authority of Fulton County), chair of the Public Policy Committee, has been a champion of wanting the organization to more actively monitor legislation, educate our members related to legislative items, and advocate for or against legislation when necessary. Thanks to Al's leadership, the executive committee, and board members like Andrea Schruijer (Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority), Trip Tollison (Savannah Economic Development Authority), and Benjy Thompson (Development Authority of Bulloch County) we now have a governmental relations firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, helping us guide our public policy efforts for the organization.  I want to also thank GEDA Past Chair Jim Finch who has served as our legislative monitor the past several years for helping us put GEDA in a great position as we transition to work with Cornerstone.

Thank you Kyle Fletcher (Thomaston-Upson County IDA) for chairing the Rural Development SIG this year and organizing quality programming relevant to our rural communities in the state.  It is great to see our state leadership and organizations like the Georgia Chamber putting attention on rural Georgia and creating events like the recent Rural Prosperity Summit in Tifton; I am glad GEDA could be a sponsor of this event.

GEDA is so fortunate to have a membership full of servant leaders, and I want to thank the following for serving as Committee and SIG chairs this year:

Business Expansion & Retention - Ashley Miller (previously with Macon Economic Development Commission)

Business Recruitment - Walt Farrell (Georgia Power)

Development Authority Executives - Melinda Lemmon (Cartersville-Bartow County Economic Development)

Marketing & Communications - John Scott (Brunswick & Glynn County Development Authority)

Membership Services - Shelley Zorn (Thomasville Payroll Development Authority)

Professional Development - Scott Poag (Williams & Associates)

Public Policy - Al Nash (Development Authority of Fulton County)

Sponsorship - Jessica Hood (Development Authority of Burke County)

Young Professionals - Meghan Duke (city of West Point)

Education & Workforce Development - Jan Melcher (Georgia Quick Start)

Entrepreneur Development - Mark Farmer (Gwinnett County Government)

Infrastructure & Transportation - Stacy Watson (Georgia Ports Authority)

Natural Resources & Environment - Ralph Forbes (Thomas & Hutton)

Non-Traditional Economic Development - Niki Vanderslice (Fayette County Development Authority)

Rural Development - Kyle Fletcher (Thomaston-Upson County IDA)

Research - Dana Brewer (Georgia Department of Economic Development)

I would also like to thank you, our members, for supporting GEDA and me this past year.  I challenge you to step it up a notch next year and give even more of your time, talents, and treasures to GEDA in 2018.  I know we have even greater things in store with Missy Kendrick (Development Authority of Polk County) as our chair next year, so I look forward to seeing all of you finding a place to plug in with GEDA!

Thank you so much for allowing me to serve this year as chair.  It has been one of the great honors of my professional career and has personally meant a lot to me.  I wish you and your families a very happy holiday season, and I hope 2018 brings you happiness and joy in all that you do.

Take care,


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