GMA President Larry Hanson: Cities Unite for Success

Larry Hanson

Friday, January 25th, 2019

As we begin the new year, it is always important to examine where we are as an organization and plan our future together. Much time and effort has been given this year to plan for a successful future and ensure we’re focused on meeting the greatest needs of our member cities. Our GMA staff spent two days in a facilitated, goal-setting retreat resulting in over 50 goals in nine identified areas. We also held our first ever joint legislative policy committee meeting with ACCG resulting in agreement on a joint legislative agenda for the 2019 legislative session. You’ll soon be provided a copy of the GMA-ACCG joint document we plan to share with the members of the General Assembly and both memberships.
Recently, under the leadership of President Linda Blechinger and our GMA officers, the members of the GMA Executive Committee spent two days focused on setting goals and priorities for GMA over the next three to five years. Many of these goals center around legislation, training, communication, strengthening the GMA brand and membership participation in GMA’s programs and services.
One overarching goal this year is to tell the story of the value of cities and the value of GMA. Cities are the economic engines of this state and deserve much of the credit for Georgia’s success in growth and job creation in recent years. Did you know the 538 cities in Georgia make up only nine percent of the state’s land area, but are home to nearly 70 percent of the state’s jobs? Or that while the state of Georgia’s population grew by a strong 12 percent over the past decade, the population of Georgia’s cities grew by 22 percent? We certainly know this growth has been uneven across the state, but the fact remains that companies often base their decisions on where to locate based on quality of life, population centers to meet workforce needs, vibrant downtowns and strong infrastructure.
At GMA we are also working to provide technical assistance to help all cities, and preparing to share more about the new non-profit, Georgia City Solutions. We are asking our member cities to help us identify their highest priority issues, and President Blechinger has appointed a task force to provide leadership to this effort.
Let’s not forget the incredible programs offered by GMA in the areas of retirement, life and health insurance, risk management and workers’ compensation insurance. Our only customers are you—our cities—and we have outstanding programs to meet your needs regardless of your city’s size. GMA recently implemented a new initiative that will provide a reduction in your GMA membership dues for your participation in these great programs. Those cities in southwest Georgia negatively affected by Hurricane Michael can attest to the value of having GIRMA as their insurance provider. Our response was timely, and claims were processed and approved quickly.
2019 promises to be an interesting year at the General Assembly, and we are prepared with a number of pro-active legislative proposals, but we must always be prepared to play strong defense. Our legislative success is multiplied by strong member engagement, and we hope you start by being at our Mayors’ Day conference, which includes GMA Day at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 28. We are counting on you!
It’s been said that we cannot go back and change the past, but we can begin now, in the new year, and make a new ending. Let’s join together for a successful 2019 for GMA by being CITIES UNITED!