By Tia Lynn Ivey
Last weekend, The James Madison Inn and Madison Tea Room hosted a conference for black mayors across Georgia. The Georgia Conference of Black Mayors (GCBM) was founded in 1986, celebrating its 30th year in Madison, where Madison Mayor Fred Perriman is the first ever African-American mayor in the city’s history.
“It felt good to make history again. It’s the first time that this group as ever been to Madison. It felt good showing them all what Madison has to offer and all we have accomplished over the years,” said Perriman. “They were all impressed with what we have going on in Madison. “Every city wants to model what we have here in Madison. “
According to GCBM organizers, “GCBM has focused much of its history on ensuring that mayors of rural areas have support in identifying resources for building affordable housing, investing in needed public infrastructure such as water and sewer systems, community facilities, and nurturing business development and job creation. Our mayors are located in 48 of Georgia’s 159 counties.”
According to the GCBM website, the conference’s “current efforts at capacity-building are aimed at delivering direct technical assistance to our members, disseminating timely and accurate information on municipal management, and communication of public policy positions.”
GCBM provides technical assistance for African-American Mayors across Georgia in the form of: grant-writing and planning assistance for infrastructure and community development investments for small towns, workshops and logistical support for public outreach efforts in community-wide planning efforts; research and analysis in support of and training for staff of local government and community-based organizations in a variety of areas, including public health, historic preservation, improved government operations, as well as financial literacy.
According to the website, “GCBM’s strategic focus is technical assistance to our mayors, local development resources and advocacy of policy that improves the community development prospects and achievements of local government in rural Georgia. In order to increase its effectiveness in so doing, GCBM has worked to establish useful collaborations with corporations, other levels of government, the non-profit sector, and other interested groups.”