Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock, Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, Macon Mayor Nick Reichert and Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach joined Rome Mayor Jamie Doss for the two-day event, along with several city managers from those communities as well as Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber and Warner Robins City Attorney Jim Elliott.
The group got a presentation on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education from Diane Hopkins, executive vice president of the partnership. She spent a lot of time talking about the importance of early learning programs such as the South Rome Early Learning Center at Anna K. Davie Elementary School.
The municipal leaders also were updated on transportation issues from Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the Georgia Road & Tollway Authority. Doss said Tomlinson did his best to explain to the mayors group that all of the state's transportation dollars are not being spent in Atlanta.
Rome City Manager Sammy Rich told his counterparts from across the state about some of the things that are happening in Rome during a program at the Rome-Floyd County ECO Center. During a Friday morning session at the Historic DeSoto Theatre, David Clonts, president of the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation, talked about the work to restore and re-use the old theater.
Downtown Development Director Amanda Carter and DDA Board Chairman Bob Blumberg spoke about the efforts to enhance the downtown district and touched on the parking issues that Rome is addressing.
"All of the hub cities have parking issues," Doss said. "If people decide they want to live downtown you've got to have a plan for those people to park. The city was designed for commercial use, not people living downtown."
April Ingram and Monica Sheppard reviewed the impact of the Rome International Film Festival and Ira Levy recounted the many projects he's been involved with downtown, including the new Lofts at Third and Broad, a mixed-use condominium/retail development.
Participants in the conference also got a bus tour of South Rome before visiting the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.
Doss said it was the group’s first conference in one of the hub cities and that Savannah Mayor DeLoach told him several times how much he loved Rome and wanted to come back.
"I think we set the bar pretty high,” Doss said.