Day two of the 2015 Annual Meeting started off with the business of the Association electing new officers and congratulating the most recent graduates of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute. The focus of celebrating the past and embracing the future continued through today's activities.
Next up was the unveiling of the Association's history book recognizing its 85-year history. Former Executive Director Howard Duvall spent the past seven years researching the history of the Association which resulted in the 80-page history book.
Filled with organizational history overlaid with state and local politics, the book makes for a quick and really interesting read. All municipal registrants at the meeting received a copy of the book, and it's for sale from the Association for $25. All cities will receive a copy of the book in the next week.
The keynote speaker, Rebecca Ryan, wowed the 600+ officials gathered for opening session with her ideas about how to plan for the future beyond the basics of strategic planning. Her remarks left officials inspired and awed with her high energy aspirations for South Carolina cities and towns. Following the session, Ryan was swamped like a rock star with officials thanking her for her insights and direction.
After the keynote address, Ryan led a break-out session focusing on the Charleston metro area's long-range planning project she led last year with the business community. In a matter of three days, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce pared hundreds of challenges for the future into the two major priorities for the next 15 years...and a plan to meet those challenges.
At the beginning of that session, Ryan had a conversation with Mayor Joe Riley who gave his recollection of the first hours following the Emmanuel Church shootings. The room was still and silent as he recounted how the people of Charleston quickly came together in a spirit of grace and forgiveness.
Riley said he knew his community would react with "love and unity." He noted that this type of community unity is important not only in times of tragedy like this but also when things are going well.
Afternoon sessions gave participants a chance to see demonstrations of drones, a Tesla and Microsoft products. Others participated in sessions about the sharing economy, avoiding financial pitfalls and disaster recovery.
The Achievement Awards and exhibition hall are highlights of Saturday's agenda.