Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Posted by: Kelly McLendon
It is finally getting to feel like spring weather, with an early morning chill and warmer afternoons and staying light later into the evening. As I think about spring and the new birth of grass, shrubs, trees and baby birds, I am reminded of the renewal of the organization we hold dear, the Georgia Economic Developers Association. We have younger people joining this organization on a regular basis and make it new, again and again. We truly appreciate all you millennials, and generation X, Y & Zers. However, in order to truly appreciate and respect our current organization, it is important to look back and see who and what has brought us to this point.
In last month’s GEDA newsletter, Randy Cardoza penned an insightful and inspiring article about a great “Economic Development” Governor, the late, Zell Miller. Governor Miller was very good for Georgia. Among other things, he established the HOPE Scholarship that allowed many Georgians to attend college, university or technical or community college, without the financial constraints that burdened many students before HOPE. He loved Georgia and was always interested in what it would take to “seal the deal.” Because of his significant impact on Georgia’s positive economic development, GEDA established the Governor Zell Miller Public Policy Leadership Award in his honor, and now in his memory. Henry M. “Hank” Huckaby, who worked for and with Governor Miller is our latest honoree. Click HERE to see a list of all the recipients of this award. GEDA made a contribution to the Miller Center in memory of Governor Miller.
In another area, I was proud to represent GEDA on the Red Carpet Tour. This was a wonderful experience, which I enjoyed very much. The Chair of GEDA has had this honor and responsibility for many years, at least since 1990. This event is indicative of the tremendous teamwork that Georgia is known for, especially in the field of economic development. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce started this promotional program in 1960, and it has been responsible for helping to create billions of investments and tens of thousands of jobs in Georgia. Guests are paired with business leaders and state hosts to help them better understand the advantages of a Georgia business location. Each year the RCT visits different regions of the state, but it always includes stops in Augusta for the Masters® Tournament. Everyone, from the Governor to elected officials, business leaders, statewide developers and volunteers come together to put Georgia’s best foot forward and show good ole Georgia Hospitality.
Another historic event is coming up in a short week’s time, the GEDA Spring Workshop. This event was initially held in Tifton in 1980, at the Holiday Inn, according to Kevin Shea, our current President, who was there. In those days the organization was known as GIDA, the Georgia Industrial Developers Association, and Jim Steed was its President. It was established as a gathering of our members to focus on more of the practical day-to-day aspects of our jobs. We have had some great Spring Workshops over the years and this year we are expecting no less. Andrea Schruijer, GEDA Secretary-Treasurer, and Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority, has put together a spectacular lineup of speakers and panels, including keynote speakers Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First and Jeff Shinabarger of Plywood People, as well as many great workshop sessions on topics such as Speed Dating with Seasoned Developers, Showmanship 101, Confessions of Out-of-State Economic Developers, and much more. We’ll even have an after-dinner Hospitality Suite on Thursday from 9-11 PM. Thanks, Andrea! See the program by clicking HERE. Shame on you if you haven’t already registered, but there’s still time… Register now. We hope to see you on Jekyll Island next week.
There are millennials on the Spring Workshop program next week, too. I don’t know about you, but the younger folks in GEDA give me hope for a bright future for GEDA far into the future. I hope with this short history lesson that we can appreciate GEDA a bit more. Thank you all for your membership in this great organization. Get involved and stay involved to make us even better. Happy Spring!