Georgia’s Macon Site of 2012 Conference

Macon, GeorgiaThe National Society of Newspaper Columnists board is looking ahead. While it actively is helping Conference Chair Brian O’Connor plan the 2011 conference in Detroit, on Oct. 13, 2010, it chose Macon, Ga., as the site of its 2012 conference. Columnist Ed Grisamore of the Macon Telegraph will be conference coordinator.

The reasons are given gracefully by the motion of Newsletter Editor Bob Haught:

[At the July 2010 annual NSNC conference in Bloomington, Ind.] Ed Grisamore of The Telegraph, Macon, Ga., made it known to President Ben Pollock and some other members of the board that he would like to host the 2012 conference in Macon. (He had mentioned his interest to me prior to the conference.) He followed up those conversations by providing additional information, including a packet of materials for meeting planners from the convention and visitors bureau. (You can review this online at visitmacon.org. Also see Macon – The Center of Georgia merrill.org/cc/macon/index.html.)

Macon is a modern southern city of diverse cultures, beautiful architecture, thriving arts and educational opportunities and an exciting music heritage (Otis Redding, Little Richard, Allman Brothers — and for those in the NSNC Comb and Kazoo Band who marched in New Orleans in 2008, Macon is where the kazoo was invented.)

Macon is located within a 500-mile radius of 12 southeastern states with (currently) 54 NSNC members in cities ranging from Memphis to Louisville to New Orleans to Daytona Beach and other parts of Florida, which is heavy with NSNC members.

Not only is Macon a fairly easy drive for a large number of potential conference attendees, it is served by the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and Atlanta (ATL), which is about an hour’s drive.

The city has state-of-the-art meeting facilities and good hotel choices including Hilton and Marriott. The convention bureau offers several complimentary services including custom bid proposals, site inspections, registration staff and other assistance and “giveaways.”

In addition to local universities and other resources, there are ample sources of program material in Atlanta, the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and elsewhere in the region. Macon has a variety of local attractions which draw visitors the year around, especially in spring when the world’s largest number of cherry trees are in bloom.

A meeting date in early to mid-May has been suggested.

Ed Grisamore has been a member of NSNC since at least 2004, when I first met him at a conference in New Orleans. He has been writing columns for The Telegraph since 1996. He is the author of six books and has won more than 45 writing awards, including the NSNC column writing contest.

Grisamore, who is quite popular and highly respected in his home city, is a proven fundraiser. Through his column, public speaking and volunteer work, he has raised thousands of dollars annually for charitable events and organizations. That record of service earned him the 2010 Will Rogers Humanitarian Award from NSNC.

He has the full support of his newspaper for his endeavors and has a solid working relationship with the city, the convention bureau and other local entities.

At last night’s board meeting, Ben read a communication he had received from Ed: “Just tell them I am honored they are considering Macon for 2012, I promise to deliver a fun, affordable convention with such large doses of Southern hospitality they will want to move to Macon. There is plenty to do here, without having to go to Atlanta. I will be able to bring in some heavy hitters for the writing seminars and entertainment venues. I also have plenty of potential corporate sponsorships.”

In an earlier email, he wrote: The columnists would get a lot of personal attention from the folks here. About 75 from the Midwest Travel Writers Association were here in the spring and were blown away. … there is a wealth of writing and creative resources from Macon, Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, Augusta and Athens (UGA) that I can tap into for programs and entertainment.”

I’m sure Ed would be glad to respond to any questions directed to him at egrisamore@macon.com.

There has not been a conference in the southeastern part of the U.S. since New Orleans in 2008. Macon in May in 2012 sounds right to me.

Therefore, I move that the board accept Ed Grisamore’s invitation to host the 2012 NSNC conference at Macon, GA and that mutually agreeable dates for the meeting be set as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, watch columnists.com for news about what we’ll be doing in Detroit in just a few months!

— Ben Pollock, NSNC president

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