South Metro is Sizzling 2

Annual South Metro 
Development Outlook Marks Yet Another Successful Year

The theme of the 14th Annual South Metro Development Outlook was “South Metro Soaring in ’16,” and this dynamic meeting of minds delivered on demonstrating just how much “South Metro is sizzling,” as one SMDO presenter pointed out.

More than 600 attendees for SMDO 2016 convened Feb. 18, 2016, at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. SMDO brings together leaders involved in the growth and development of South Metro to share ideas and discuss future opportunities. The event attracts industry experts, corporate executives, government leaders and elected officials interested in fostering economic growth in the Southern Crescent of metropolitan Atlanta. It’s the brainchild of Michael Hightower, managing partner, The Collaborative Firm, LLC, and board of directors, Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance.

Hightower acknowledged presenting sponsor Porsche Cars North America, Inc., by presenting a plaque to Joseph Folz, the luxury brand’s vice president, general counsel and secretary, and chairman emeritus, Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance.

SMDO kicked off with “The Georgia Gang” political experts Phil Kent and Jeff Dickerson, who presided over the day’s sessions. Sessions included 2016 Economic Forecast, South Metro Economic Development Highlights, The Millennial Movement in South Metro, Technology and the Digital Age and Education and South Metro. The closing session focused on an Atlanta Aerotropolis Update.

For the session on Millennial Movement in South Metro, South Fulton Lifestyle magazine co-publisher Michelle Willis served as moderator. Panelists provided insight on the millennial lifestyle in an effort to identify opportunities to attract and sustain this demographic for the region’s future growth.

“The millennial session highlighted the need for South Metro to better understand the needs and interests of our current and future residents,” said Hightower.

Other highlights of SMDO included general session II, South Metro Economic Development Highlights, during which panelist David Welch noted “It’s our time now on the Southside.” Welch is partner at Robinson Weeks Partners. Fellow panelist Al Nash, executive director, Development Authority of Douglas County, added that “Truly, South Fulton is a leader in the movie and entertainment industry in the United States.”
During the fifth session, Education and South Metro, Dr. Alvetta Peterman Thomas, president, Atlanta Technical College, noted the importance of business engagement. “We cannot do this work without strong business relationships,” said Thomas. “We expect businesses to tell us what we should be teaching students. We want students ready to go into the workforce.”

Perhaps the takeaway that truly summed up the packed day best came from Larry Vincent, chairman, Development Authority of Clayton County.

“The Southside will not be the same in the next 10 years,” said Vincent.