Largest Development Conference in South Metro Atlanta to Highlight Boom in Economic Development, Transportation, Film Industry, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and More

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“It’s All About the South,” is the theme for this year’s South Metro Development Outlook (SMDO) Conference to be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in College Park, Georgia. More than 600 conference goers are expected to attend SMDO 2015, which is recognized as the largest development conference in south metropolitan Atlanta.

“For the past several years, South Metro has emerged as a key catalyst and contributor to this growth,”

“It’s All About the South,” is the theme for this year’s South Metro Development Outlook (SMDO) Conference to be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in College Park, Georgia. More than 600 conference goers are expected to attend SMDO 2015, which is recognized as the largest development conference in south metropolitan Atlanta. Now in its 13th year, 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. It features Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, South Fulton and Spalding counties, and the city of Atlanta.

According to Forbes Magazine, Atlanta ranks tenth as the fastest growing city in the nation with a projected economic growth rate of 3.5% between 2011- 2016. “For the past several years, South Metro has emerged as a key catalyst and contributor to this growth,” says former Fulton County Commissioner, Michael Hightower, who is the founder of South Metro Development Outlook and managing partner of The Collaborative Firm, LLC, an Atlanta based land use planning, program management and real estate development company.

South Metro Development Outlook is expected to attract those interested in learning about opportunities in South Metro, including the projects planned around the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The conference will kick off with bantering between the Georgia Gang’s own Phil Kent and Jeff Dickerson who will preside over the Opening Session and General Sessions I, II and III.

One of the featured speakers at SMDO is nationally acclaimed economist, Roger Tutterow, who will give a 2015 Economic Forecast during the Opening Session. Also slated for this session are Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC); Jack Longino, Mayor of College Park; John Eaves, Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; and Michael Hightower, Managing Partner of The Collaborative Firm.

Economic Development will be the focus of General Session I. Mary Ellen McClanahan, Director of the Georgia Department of Economic Development will lead the panel, which will include: Paul Morris, President and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.; Craig Richard, the new President and CEO of Invest Atlanta; Al Nash, Executive Director of the Development Authority of Fulton County; Chris Pumphrey, Executive Director of the Development Authority of Douglas County; and Larry Vincent, Chairman of the Development Authority of Clayton County.

General Session II will feature a panel discussion about the Region’s Thriving Film Industry. Lee Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, will moderate the panel consisting of: Barton Bond, Director of the Clayton State University Film and Digital Media Center; Vince Williams, Mayor of Union City; Brian Hooker, Executive Director of McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA); Scott Tigchelaar, President of Senoia Enterprises; and Jim Pace, Principal of Group VI (Pinewood Studios).

General Session III is entitled “Transportation: South Metro On the Move.” Former Deputy Chief Operating Officer of the City of Atlanta will moderate this session of distinguished panelists: David Gill, President of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce; Todd Long, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation; Jeff Turner, Chairman of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners; and Keith Parker, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of MARTA.

During the Lunch Session, Michael Hightower, the Conference Host, will acknowledge South Metro Chamber of Commerce Presidents for their contributions to South Metro. Kerry Armstrong, Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), and Hal Clemmer, the new President and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, will also participate.

South Metro’s “Economic Engine”, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, will be the topic at the Closing Session, and will feature Miguel Southwell, Hartsfield-Jackson’s Aviation Manager; Joseph Folz, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Porsche Cars North America, and Chairman of the Aerotropolis Airport Alliance.

Key sponsors of the 13th annual South Metro Development Outlook Conference include The Collaborative Firm, LLC, Georgia Power, Development Authority of Clayton County, City of College Park, Douglas County Economic Development Authority, Development Authority of Fulton County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Fifth Third Bank, Porsche Cars of North America and more.

Admission to South Metro Development Outlook is $65 advance registration, and $70 day of conference. To register, and/or for more information, visit http://www.SMDOCONFERENCE.com, or call (404) 684-7031.

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The Collaborative Firm, LLC offers a unique blend of expertise in land use planning, program management and real estate development. With over 80 years of combined experience in city and county government at the policy and executive staff levels, professionals of The Collaborative Firm are distinctly qualified to provide strategic solutions to the public and private sectors.

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