Economic development along Southern Crescent focus of regional conference

Dr. Roger Tutterow

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 11, 2016) — “South Metro Soaring in ’16” is the theme for the 14th-annual South Metro Development Outlook Conference to be held next week in College Park.

The SMDO Conference will be from 7 a.m. To 2 p.m. Feb. 18, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.

Organizers predict more than 600 attendees are expected to attend the conference, which is recognized as the largest development conference in south metropolitan Atlanta. SMDO serves as a platform to convene industry experts, corporate executives, government leaders and elected officials interested in fostering smart growth in Atlanta’s Southern Crescent, and features Clayton, Henry, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, South Fulton and Spalding counties, and the city of Atlanta.

“For the past several years, South Metro has emerged as a key catalyst and contributor to this growth,” said Michael Hightower, the founder of South Metro Development Outlook and managing partner of The Collaborative Firm LLC, an Atlanta-based land use planning, program management, community outreach and economic development company.

Among the topics to be discussed are projects planned around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the economic forecast of south metro.

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask top-rated professionals questions concerning the future growth of south Atlanta, including Dr. Ali Dadpay, director of CREST at Clayton State University, and Dr. Roger Tutterow, economics professor at Kennesaw State University, who will speak about economic and demographic predictions for the Southern Crescent region.

Chris Pumphrey, executive director of the Development Authority of Douglas County, and Forrest Robinson, CEO of Robinson Weeks Partners will speak to ways of attracting economic growth to the area.

The third session will be led by Danielle Elkins, Southeast and New England director of Government Relations at CH2M, and Kamali Varner, city of McDonough council member, who will address the impact of millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, on the future growth in south metro Atlanta.

Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia, and Shawn Geagan, senior director of Business Development at Comcast, will lead discussions on technology and the digital age.

Finally, General Session V will focus on the importance of educational institutions in improving economic development in communities and how Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School Districts referendum will impact economic growth in school systems across the south metro region. Dr. Tim Hynes, president of Clayton State University, Dr. Alvetta Thomas, president of Atlanta Technical College, Luvenia Jackson, superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools, and Kenneth Zeff, interim superintendent of Fulton County Schools, will be the panelists. The session will be moderated by Ann Cramer, senior consultant at Coxe Curry & Associates.

The conference will close with a discussion about the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance and its efforts to transform the area around Hartsfield-Jackson.

Thursday’s event is sponsored by Porsche Cars North America, Inc., the city of College Park, Development Authority of Clayton County, Development Authority of Fulton County, Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, Georgia Power, Comcast, The Collaborative Firm, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Fifth Third Bank and more.

Registration for the South Metro Development Outlook Conference is $65 in advance until Feb. 12, and $75 the day of the conference. To register for SMDO 2016 or for more information visit or call 404-684-7031.

-Henry Herald