On our final day, we hit the road early, departing Americus and reaching Columbus in time for a morning meeting with Board of Regents member Kessel Stelling and Georgia Rep. Calvin Smyre at Synovus Bank’s headquarters. Regent Stelling is also the chairman/CEO of Synovus, a Columbus-based full-service financial services company with locations in five Southern states. Rep. Smyre is a long-serving member of the Georgia House who was first elected in 1974 at age 26. Both are enormously supportive of higher education in general and Georgia Tech in particular
Georgia Tech is deeply engaged in this part of the state. In 2016, the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) helped 25 west Georgia manufacturing companies reduce operating costs by $800,000, increase sales by $1 million, and create or save 50 jobs.
Following a couple of meetings with some of our alums we moved on to our final alumni gathering on the 2017 tour. We partnered with the Muscogee County Rotary at the Green Island Country Club in Columbus. We had a great crowd, perhaps the biggest crowd in this Rotary Club’s history. We had a number of incoming freshmen who attended along with several prospective students. Tyler Townsend introduced me and following my comments, with the club president’s permission, helped lead the entire crowd in a rousing rendition of our fight song. The club members were good sports and sang along with us.
We closed out the 2017 Georgia Tour with a great visit to the Aflac world headquarters in Columbus to explore possible partnership opportunities. Most of you know the Fortune 500 insurance giant from its amusing advertisements featuring the Aflac duck, which has been around since 2000 and has even made an appearance in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Thanks in part to the charismatic little fellow, Georgia-based Aflac is now one of the world’s best-known companies. His face even adorns the company logo.
That finished up another Georgia Tour, and this one is now in the books. As I alluded to on Day 1, we’ve covered 970 miles — the most ever since we began the Tour — visited 44 counties, 12 cities, and had 25 meetings or events. Overall it was a great success! We visited the port, saw self-driving tractors, honey processing, the Georgia Peanut Commission, crop dusters being manufactured, and a ton of proud yellow Jackets.
Everywhere we went we were warmly welcomed, and while the weather was not completely cooperative, all the great folks we met were!
G.P. “Bud” Peterson
Georgia Tech Alumni Association President/CEO Joe Irwin, President G.P. "Bud" Peterson, Tech alumni Tyler Townsend and Ryan Clements, and Vice President for Government & Community Relations Dene Sheheane lead the singing of the "Ramblin' Wreck" fight song in the 2017 Georgia Tour's final alumni gathering June 22 in Columbus at a joint meeting with the Rotary Club.
President Peterson spreads the good news about Georgia Tech to an enthusiastic alumni group at the Rotary Club meeting in Columbus.
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has a word with President Peterson.
From left, President Peterson in Columbus with the Townsend family: Aiden, Eleanore, and Tyler. Tyler serves on Georgia Tech's Alumni Association board.