Association for University
Business and Economic Research

A national association of regional
economic research centers

Southern Hospitality, Top Sessions, World-Class Field Trip + Celebrity Chef

Known as the “Hostess City of the South,” Savannah, Georgia, has a rich and colorful history dating back to 1733 when it was founded. With live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the city is a center of art, period architecture, trendy shops, cuisine, and ghost stories. It is also the location for AUBER’s 2019 Fall Conference.

The conference will be held in the downtown Savannah landmark hotel, the DeSoto, in the heart of the historic district near the city’s iconic squares and parks, dozens of good restaurants and rooftop bars, and the riverfront.

“It’s a very walkable city,” according to Mike Toma, director of the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER) at Georgia Southern University. “We chose this location for its truly authentic Savannah experience. Attendees can casually stroll around exploring the city’s beauty without fear of being overrun by the usual touristy clap-trap and t-shirts.”

Toma and Ben McKay, director and assistant director, respectively, of CBAER, will be hosting the conference, titled “Regional Analysis in the Age of Populism,” focusing on emerging topics in business economic and public policy (read more about the conference here).

In addition to sessions on topics as wide ranging as natural resource management, immigration and border issues, sustainable development, and data visualization, the 72nd annual conference will feature one of our famous field trips – this time to the Georgia Ports Authority and then to Gulfstream Aerospace.

AUBER’s Conference Field Trip:
Georgia Ports Authority, Gulfstream Aerospace + Dinner Prepared by Celebrity Chef

On Monday afternoon, conference goers will board the bus to head to the Georgia Ports Authority, which is the 4th largest and fastest growing container port in the U.S. Since 1945, Georgia’s ports have served as magnets for international trade, moving millions of tons of containerized cargo annually.

During the tour, attendees will drive through the port and see the huge stacks of containers that are six or seven units high. “You get the feeling of driving down a canyon – the canyon walls are formed by containers,” Toma said. When he has taken students on the tour, he said they have been able to watch as containers are unloaded from ships, moved to flatbed trucks, or loaded onto railroad cars on-site.

“The port facility is viewed as a state-level asset, and the state has put billions of dollars of investment into the infrastructure,” Toma said. “It is a stunning experience.”

According to McKay, the authority sets a new record every year moving containers. “In Calendar Year 2018, container traffic set another record, increasing by about 7.5 percent over the previous year. The growth at the port has been an amazing thing to watch over the last several years.”

After the Georgia Ports Authority tour, attendees will head to Gulfstream Aerospace, a manufacturing, research and development, and service center for Gulfstream business jets. AUBERites will then get a tour of the world-class facility, which manufactures planes that range in cost from $40 million to $100 million each and employs 11,000+ people in Savannah. The tour will include a walk through starting at the beginning of the assembly line to see how all the pieces come together of manufacturing a jet.

“We’ll see everything including miles of layered electrical wires, cockpit componentry, fuselage build-out, and how engines and landing gear are attached to the frame,” Toma said. “It’s amazing.”  The tour will conclude in the paint facility where attendees will see recently painted multi-million-dollar planes, or possibly see a plane being painted.

After the tour, conference goers will make their way back to Savannah for a dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall, the oldest, longest standing chapter in the city. Dinner will be prepared by Chef Mac, the former chef for singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett while listening to a jazz quartet.

Don’t miss this memorable conference in the heart of downtown Savannah!
May 7, 2019

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