Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inaugural Conference Unites Georgia's Leaders in a Statewide Conversation

/PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, Georgia's academic, civic, economic, and government leaders began a long-awaited conversation about the future of our state. The Macon State College Conference Center played host to the 2010 GeorgiaForward Forum. Over 200 stakeholders, representing every corner of the state, convened at the Conference Center to discuss the most pressing challenges facing Georgians today, including the economy, water equity, education, and transportation.

Following the theme "Together, improving the state of our state," the day-long forum attendees were welcomed by Macon State University President Dr. David Bell and the mayor of Macon, Robert Reichert. An original short video entitled "Who We Are: What Does it Mean to Live in Georgia," started the morning session with a thought-provoking look at the current situation of Georgians, from Rome to Savannah, and everywhere in between.

"I firmly believe that this forum represents a watershed moment in Georgia's history," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, of Augusta, Georgia. "Though the process won't be easy and will require a long term commitment on behalf of all involved, I believe the forum gave a brief glimpse of a very bright future for Georgia."

Dr. Harold Hodgkinson, the Director of The Center for Demographic Policy, led an in-depth discussion about the state's ever evolving demographic layout, including the social, economic and political implications that Georgians will face by the year 2030. Anita-Brown Graham, Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues, a public policy think-and-do tank that tackles issues facing North Carolina's future growth and prosperity, spoke to the possibilities of what a similar organization could accomplish in Georgia.

"GeorgiaForward is about creating and maintaining an on-going dialogue about the issues that are affecting Georgians," says A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress, the organization that started the effort that is now GeorgiaForward. "Every county in the state of Georgia is unique in its own right; however, by taking a unified look at our state's issues we stand to improve the quality of our state's economy and infrastructure for future generations."

A highly anticipated question and answer session with Georgia's 2010 gubernatorial candidates kicked off the afternoon program with both candidates Deal & Barnes phoning in to talk about their visions for the state. Attendees spent the afternoon participating in four problem-solving interactive sessions: Georgia's new transportation bill, the economy, the Tri-State Water Wars, as well as education's role in economic development, were the focal points of each session.

"Our goal for the inaugural GeorgiaForward Forum was to open the lines of communication between Georgia's stakeholders and citizens, across regional lines," says event organizer Amir Farokhi. "Today's event has greatly surpassed our expectations, and we are eager to see where this conversation leads us."

For more information about GeorgiaForward and its on-going efforts, please go to

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