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Young Gamechangers bring Big Ideas to Center Stage in Augusta on Dec 16

For five months 48 of Georgia’s brightest young professionals has researched Augusta history, met with community leaders and stakeholders, toured campuses and neighborhoods, and discussed logistics in their quest to come up with big ideas and innovative solutions to some of the area’s most persistent challenges. Their hard work will finally be revealed when they present their final recommendations on Friday, December 16 from 2-4 pm. The event will take place at the Paul S. Simon Discovery Theater, One Seventh Street, Augusta, GA 30901. It is free and the public and media are invited. If you plan to attend, please RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2fa4RxN.

“The community, businesses and political leadership in Augusta have very supportive of the Young Gamechangers program,” states Kris Vaughn, Executive Director of GeorgiaForward. “We are especially thankful for a dynamic local steering committee including Mayor Hardie Davis, Former Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Community Foundation President Shell Knox Berry and Convention & Visitors Bureau President Barry White. We are excited to share the final recommendations with these leaders and the community at large.”

Below are the four challenge questions that the Young Gamechangers have been working on:

  1. With more than twelve miles of river frontage, how can Augusta capitalize on its riverfront assets to provide greater accessibility and connectivity to the whole community?
  2. What do you perceive to be Augusta’s greatest strengths and how should the community leverage those strengths to attract millennials to visit or move to Augusta?
  3. How can Augusta and Augusta University strategically plan their growth and development to strengthen their connectivity and increase the vitality of the urban core?
  4. With the growth of Fort Gordon, the cyber industry and Augusta University, how can Augusta address the need for a mixture of housing within Richmond County?

Here is an introduction to some of the Young Gamechangers with a few sneak previews.

angela-allenAngela Allen is a proud product of Garden City Augusta, GA. She obtained her Bachelors in Biology from Claflin University, and her Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Informatics from Augusta University. She currently works as a senior member of the clinical data analytics team at Augusta University Medical Center.

When discussing the connectivity between Augusta and Augusta University, Allen had this to say, “We have ideas that work in tandem with each other, and include a doable plan for implementation.  Not only are we proposing changes like creating new streetscapes, we’re including ideas for funding.”

“This project has taught me how important it is to have community engagement to make an initiative successful,” adds Allen. “They really need to have buy in because ultimately they will own the change.”

dave-loeffelDave Loeffel is a Principal at Walton Communities overseeing Affordable Housing Investments. Walton Communities is a developer, owner and manager of apartment communities throughout metro-Atlanta and Augusta. Loeffel also serves on the Board of Directors for the Good Samaritan Clinic of Cobb County and the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition. He received an MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He lives in Marietta, GA.

“One of the interesting things about Young Gamechangers is that we are from all around the state,” says Loeffel. “It’s helped me see new perspectives and get outside the Metro Atlanta bubble.”

“As far as a sneak preview,” Loeffel adds. “Our ideas addressing the need for a mixture of housing acknowledge the innovation that’s already there, but look at creating a more cohesive policy.”

meg-greerMeg Greer graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, AL in 2013 then moved to Dublin, GA to pursue a career in her family’s real estate and estate planning law firm. She was in the Dublin-Laurens 2015 Leadership Class and President of Dublin’s Junior League for 2014-2015.  She is a member of the Dublin-Laurens Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program, President of the Dublin Bar Association, and President of the Young Professionals of Dublin-Laurens County.

“Living in Dublin, I’ve seen changes that have directly resulted from the Young Gamechangers program,” explains Greer. “Plans for the renovation of our downtown Skyscraper came from the group, as well as ideas for our new Riverwalk. It’s exciting to know that our ideas for Augusta may come to fruition, too.”

matt-reedMatt Reed is the Owner/CEO of Georgia CEO, an online publisher focusing on business news in nine different communities across Georgia. He attended Valdosta State University and graduated from the Langdale College of Business with a degree in Business Management. He serves on the board of the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, the Board of Governors for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the executive committee of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and on the University of Georgia Small Business Development State Advisory Committee. Reed and his wife Kelsey reside in Albany, GA.

“Our group is working on ideas for strengthening the connectivity between Augusta and Augusta University,” explains Reed. “One of the things we are looking at is creating specific partnerships.”

“I’ve been in other leadership programs,” adds Reed. “But Young Gamechangers is different because it’s a leadership action program. You have the potential to change a community and it ups your game.”

helen-trotter-caldwellHelen Trotter Caldwell was born and raised in Augusta, GA. She graduated from Augusta Preparatory Day School in 1998 and University of Mississippi in 2002. She began her career in the Food & Beverage industry in Charleston, SC but changed to banking in 2005. She moved home to Augusta in 2007 to join Georgia Bank & Trust. Caldwell currently serves as Vice President & Relationship Manager specializing in Cash Management. She and her husband Wade have 3 children, Brandt, Whit and Eliza.

“I was surprised by the diversity of our team,” says Caldwell. “I didn’t think this would be an asset, but it’s been a key factor in our productivity. We can get outside the box faster with our ideas.”

“I hope we make a lasting impact in Augusta,” Caldwell adds. “I’d love to see momentum get going, with a ripple effect across the state.”

Sponsors for the 2016 Fall Young Gamechangers program includeThe Commerce Club Foundation, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Augusta University, Doctors Hospital, Georgia Power, Georgia EMC, Holiday Inn Express, South Star Trolley, City of Augusta, Augusta Metro Chamber, Jordan Trotter Commercial Real Estate, Community Foundation of the CRSA, Copenhaver Consulting, Beth & Barry Storey, The Surrey Center, Georgia Bank and Trust, Fat Man’s Cafe at Enterprise Mills, Braye & Tori Boardman, MealViewer, Metro Market, Southbound Smokehouse, Richmond on Greene, and Georgia Trend Magazine.

GeorgiaForward is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working to improve the state of Georgia by engaging business, political, academic and civil leaders to collaboratively shape a statewide policy agenda.  For more information about the Young Gamechangers program and a complete list of the 2016 fall class, visit their web site:  http://georgiaforward.org/young-gamechangers.

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MEDIA Contact: Karen Hatchett – karen@hatchettpr.com

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