Largest Development Conference in Atlanta is Going Virtual

Now in its 19th year, South Metro Development Outlook (SMDO2021) convenes industry professionals, corporate executives, government leaders and elected officials committed to fostering smart growth in the southern crescent. “South Metro Development Outlook 2021 Moving Beyond…” is the theme for this year’s conference to be held virtually on Thursday, March 18, 2021, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Speakers will highlight economic development, transportation, small business and more. The conference will also celebrate the accomplishments of Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and South Fulton counties, and South Atlanta.

Michael Hightower is the founder of South Metro Development Conference and Managing Partner of The Collaborative Firm, LLC, an Atlanta based land use planning, program management and real estate development company. On the scene for almost three decades, TCF is recognized as one of the largest minority planning firms in the southeastern United States. “Despite COVID-19, SMDO2021 will deliver an ‘in-person’ experience on a unique, interactive and engaging virtual platform,” said Hightower. “I look forward to hearing the bold plans from the leaders who will help the region move forward beyond the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan will deliver a special address to the SMDO21 virtual audience iin the opening session. Also on the conference agenda is Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, City of Atlanta who will give greetings.

Attendees are invited to explore the virtual platform as much as possible to increase their chances to win a variety of prizes. Michel “Marty” Turpeau, Chair, Development Authority of Fulton County will accept the Corporate Leadership Award which is presented to a company who exemplifies commitment to advancing the development of the South Metro region.

General Session 1

Economic Forecast and Regional Growth will feature updates on economic successes, interest rates, demographics, employment and business trends.

Michael Paris, President and CEO, Council for Quality Growth will give opening remarks

Dr. Roger Tutterow, Economist, Dir. of the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University

Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission

The Georgia Municipal Association will be presented with the Trailblazer Award for its leadership, fortitude and charting a path for the South Metro community. Accepting the award will be Mayor Vince Williams, Mayor of Union City and President, GMA and

Larry Hanson, Executive Director, GMA.

General Session II

The Trends Impacting the Future of Transportation

As the world “Moves Beyond” the global pandemic, learn how rail, ground and air transportation in the region are performing in comparison to last year and how some of our behavioral changes will determine what happens with transportation in the future.

Andre Dickens, City of Atlanta Post 3 At-Large Councilmember, Chair, Transportation Committee

John Selden, Airport General Manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Jeffrey A. Parker, General Manager / CEO, MARTA

Chris Tomlinson, Executive Director, Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority Executive Director and Board Secretary, State Road and Tollway Authority

Honorable David Scott, U.S. House of Representatives, GA-13 will be presented with the Public Service Leadership Award in recognition of his long-term visionary leadership and dedication to the South Metro region.

General Session III

Small Business Resiliency

As consumers limit their movement to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many small businesses are suffering. Learn how business leaders are adapting to the challenges associated with COVID-19 with the utilization of resources available and the success factors that lead to sustaining and succeeding during this economic crisis.

Michelle Willis, Founder of Gagnant Media and Publisher of SoFu Lifestyle, Panel Moderator

Panelists and recipients of the Small Business Enterprise Awards are:

Ashley D. Bell, Partner Dentons Law Firm and former Region IV Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

Arden’s Garden, accepted by Leslie Zinn, Co-Founder / CEO

T. Dallas Smith & Company, accepted by Leonte Benton, Principal and Sr. Vice President.

General Session IV

The Evolving Economy of South Metro

The supply and demand shock of 2020 that halted our global economy exposed vulnerabilities in the production strategies and supply chains of our region. Learn how the region is handling these market fluctuations and what comes next as we move beyond.

Pat Wilson, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development will give opening remarks.

FJ “Josh” Fenn, Executive Director, Henry County Development Authority

Samir Abdullahi, Deputy Director, Select Fulton

Chris Pumphrey, President, Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership who will be presented with the Economic Development Innovative Award recognizing Douglas County’s efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban and rural communities within the South Metro region.

General Session V

Celebrating the Economic Progress of the South Metro Region

Mayor Bianca Motley Broom of College Park will discuss the successes of the city and share plans for continued growth as we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. John Cornelius, Georgia Power Metro South Regional Director, will accept the Industrial Innovation Award on behalf of Georgia Power recognizing their extraordinary support of businesses and organizations that serve the South Metro Region.

Closing Session

Recognizing New County Leadership

For the first time in many years, the South Metro region is undergoing a major leadership change with two new female county chairs, both who started their respective roles in January 2021. Cobb County Chair Lisa Cupid and Henry County Chair Carlotta Harrell will discuss leadership, transit, affordable housing and the coronavirus pandemic. This session will be moderated by Jeffrey E. Turner, Chairman, Clayton County Board of Commissioners.

Key sponsors of the 19th annual South Metro Development Outlook Conference include Development Authority of Fulton County, Georgia Power, Elevate Douglas Economic Partnership, The Collaborative Firm, LLC, AT&T, Henry County Development Authority, Union City, GA, Georgia Trend and Porsche.

Admission to South Metro Development Outlook is $40 advance registration. To register, and/or for more information, visit or call (404) 684-7031. Visit the Collaborative Firm


Media Contact

Zabrina Horton, The Collaborative Firm, LLC, +1 (404) 684-9801, [email protected]