An Update on the 2020 Joint Tennessee/Georgia Fall Conference
A Message from Doug Demosi, TAPA President:
I hope this message finds everyone doing well today. The Conference Planning Committee, made up of executive board leadership from both the Tennessee and Georgia Planning Chapters, has been watching the ever-evolving situation with COVID-19 to determine the best course of action regarding our joint Fall Conference. We have also been keeping close tabs on what other Chapters are doing for their conferences, as well as receiving guidance from APA National.
A survey was sent out to the membership of both the Tennessee and Georgia Planning Chapters to obtain your input into the plans for the joint Fall Conference. I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who responded, as your input was invaluable to the decisions that were made (more on that shortly). The survey showed that multiple jurisdictions have been affected by travel restrictions and/or budget cuts. It also showed that about 31 percent of respondents were either likely or highly likely to attend an in-person conference, as compared to almost 45 percent who were either unlikely or highly unlikely to attend, with the remaining 24 percent remaining neutral. Safety/social distancing was also cited as a primary concern with an in-person conference.
We have seen that most Chapters are foregoing in-person conferences this Fall and are proceeding with virtual conferences instead. APA National cancelled the National Planning Conference this year and went with a virtual format that had over 5,000 participants. They have also informed the State Chapters that they will not be having any in-person conferences for the rest of this calendar year.
The Conference Planning Committee held a virtual meeting to review the findings of the survey and to discuss what other Chapters were doing for their conferences. This discussion resulted in the following actions:
- Forego an in-person conference for 2020. We felt that an in-person conference was too risky to attempt, considering the number of people who would likely not attend, the potential impacts of travel and budgets restrictions, particularly for Georgia planners having to travel out-of-state, safety concerns, and the possibility of restrictions on large gatherings this Fall
- Offer virtual conferences for this Fall individually, and plan to have the joint conference in the Fall of 2021 in Chattanooga.
Our Executive Board held a separate virtual meeting to affirm the recommendations of the Conference Planning Committee. Please understand that we did not come to these decisions easily or lightly. There simply were too many factors that made planning an in-person conference this year impractical, if not impossible.
I know that our actions to postpone the joint Fall Conference this year will be a disappointment to many of you. I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all of us, would prefer an in-person conference, as we all enjoy the time spent networking, learning from our peers, and seeing old (and new) friends. Please know that we are committed to making our virtual Fall Conference the best that it can be. We are also very excited to join the Georgia Chapter next year in Chattanooga.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Stay tuned for more information on our virtual Fall Conference!! As always, thanks for all you do for Planning!!