Every citizen knows the conventional wisdom that has defined our state since Reconstruction: There is Atlanta, and then there is the rest of Georgia.
Increasingly, though, the other, smaller cities are thrumming with innovation and a renewed sense of camaraderie, and their leaders are comparing notes. What started as a meet-and-greet at the Georgia Municipal Association’s Mayors’ Day Conference in January 2013 grew into the Hub Cities Initiative, a sweeping effort “to pull everyone together to harness and leverage the state’s full economic potential,” says Lamar Norton, GMA’s executive director.
So the mayors of 13 participating metropolitan areas – Albany, Athens, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Hinesville, Macon, Rome, Savannah, Valdosta and Warner Robins – have been meeting quarterly in different hospitality suites and conference rooms around the state to brainstorm solutions to thorny challenges surrounding transportation, education, taxes, job creation and homelessness. In the process, they have discovered much common ground, from the piedmont to the wiregrass.