UGA to host first Urban Congress and Summit for medium-sized metro areas in Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. – For the first time, representatives from Georgia’s medium Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) will have the opportunity to come together for discussion at a conference designed especially for them. The first Urban Congress and Summit will be held Dec. 4-5, at the Foundry Park Inn and Conference Center in Athens. The meeting is part of the Urban Georgia Initiative, a new project of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The Urban Congress and Summit will bring together public elected and appointed officials, private-sector leaders and community activists from the metropolitan regions of Albany, Athens, Augusta-Aiken, Chattanooga, Columbus-Phenix City, Macon and Savannah to discuss such issues of common interest as economic linkages, education, transportation, the environment and multistate metropolitan regions, according to Jim Youngquist, project director and faculty member with the Vinson Institute’s Community and Regional Development Division. “The discussion sessions will be set up in a forum setting to allow for the maximum amount of panel and attendee dialogue,” Youngquist emphasized.

Guest speakers include David Crockett, president of the Chattanooga Institute, and George Israel, president and chief executive officer of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and former mayor of Macon. Panel discussions will involve numerous government officials and administrators, business representatives, and community leaders from the target MSAs.

“Most attention to the subjects of growth and economic vibrancy in Georgia seems to often focus on Atlanta or rural Georgia, but the seven medium MSAs are also important economic engines to not only themselves, but to the rural areas that surround them,” Youngquist explained. “The Urban Georgia Initiative in general and the Urban Congress in particular are important because at present there is no place where the public and private leadership of these areas can come together to address issues, challenges and opportunities, and in cooperation with local government associations, develop policy and legislation.” The next summit will be held in the fall of 2005.

The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Municipal Association are serving as coconveners for the summit. For more information, contact Jim Youngquist at youngquist@cviog.uga.edu or 706/542-6611.