Speaking session in 2020 at Savannah-Chatham Day.

Looking ahead to much anticipated 2024 Savannah-Chatham Day in Atlanta

Savannah Chamber of Commerce President Bert Brantley previews 2024 Savannah-Chatham Day

Savannah-Chatham Day, a two-day event featuring a legislative oyster roast and listening sessions with state and regional leaders, is set for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Atlanta. An event strategically planned and organized mostly by the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, Savannah-Chatham Day brings together officials from across the City of Savannah and Chatham County to meet in Atlanta with state leaders about policy, priorities and positions concerning the Savannah area.

It is annually one of the most impressive displays of unity for the Savannah-Chatham County region, all of it in an effort to show state leaders that the Savannah region is crucial to the state's vitality in the present and future. While in Atlanta, Bert Brantley will celebrate his one-year job anniversary as the president and CEO of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce—a role that started on Feb. 1, 2023. Brantley, who is not new to attending Savannah-Chatham Day,  went annually while serving as Governor Brian Kemp's Deputy Chief of Staff.

Brantley spoke with Connect Savannah ahead of Savannah-Chatham Day 2024 to tell readers what to know and what to look out for.

click to enlarge Looking ahead to much anticipated 2024 Savannah-Chatham Day in Atlanta (3)
Bert Brantley
"We will have ‘700ish’ people up there and it's a chance for our members to be with our leadership because a lot of our city officials will be up there too. Of course, the state leaders will be there as well. All of them," he said.

"It’s a chance for us to get together and talk about what Savannah's priorities are, and what we're hoping [state legislators] will address this session. We’ve got several top priorities in terms of policy and funding efforts for them to consider."

While chamber members and city leaders relay their goals and positions, it is also a great opportunity to learn from policy makers about the latest legislative issues, especially those issues directly affecting the southeast portion of the state.

"We want to show unity and I think it's really a great message for the folks up there [in Atlanta] that we're all showing up there and doing this together," said Brantley. "It gives them confidence that if they invest here, it's going to be a successful investment."

It is no coincidence that the event is scheduled for early February each year. It's when the Georgia General Assembly meets "under the gold dome" at the capitol in Atlanta to introduce and vote on legislation.

"There's a lot of stuff happening up there right now. So, we want to plan it right and to say clearly that these are the things that are important to us," Brantley said. "We try to do this early in the session, late January or early February, so that we're up there as they're sort of starting to form the ideas. If you wait too late, they've already made up their minds and they have passed bills already. The timing is very intentional."

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, chamber members will get the opportunity to network with most all of Georgia’s elected officials, along with friends and colleagues from the coast at an oyster roast and Low Country boil at the Georgia Freight Depot. On Thursday, Feb. 1, chamber members are invited to listening sessions with state agency leaders, statewide elected officials and Georgia state legislators.

"There used to be this notion that Atlanta got all the attention and sucked up all the money and the resources," Brantley said when asked about how the state leaders in Atlanta view Savannah and the coast. "Over the last 20-or-so years, there has been a real recognition about how important Savannah is. They know what's going on down here. They recognize it."

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Savannah-Chatham Day networking oyster roast in 2018.

Governor Brian Kemp and Speaker of the House of Representatives Jon Burns (R - Newington) should be two of many state leaders attending Savannah-Chatham Day this year.

Kemp's budget proposal has made news across the state after the governor announced plans for a new dental school to be created at the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah.

"My budget proposal includes $178 million for the design and construction of a dental school at Georgia Southern University," said Kemp at his annual state of the state address earlier this month. "The first school of its kind in our state since the moon landing in 1969."

The only dental school in the state before now was in Augusta.

"We'd love to see that [dental school] come here to Savannah," said Brantley. "Not only for our area and how important it would be to have a dental teaching school here, but also the economic impact it'll have for Georgia Southern and the Armstrong campus and really fulfilling that vision over there. It's very exciting for us. Incredibly exciting."

"There is also money for a mental health bed facility here in Savannah. There are several pieces in the budget that we're going to ask legislators about, and these are things already in the government budget."
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Van Johnson (left) and Bert Brantley at a previous Savannah-Chatham Day.

Brantley said the event has been going on for as long as they can remember.

"At least 20-25 years now and longer probably," he said. " It's an exciting time now because there's a real sense that Savannah is growing, that we are a thriving region worthy of investment. We're ready to get back up there."

Follow the Savannah Chamber of Commerce on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the latest from Brantley and his staff.

WHAT – 2024 Savannah-Chatham Day
DATE – Jan. 31, 2024, 5pm - Feb. 1, 2024, 12pm
LOCATION – Atlanta, Ga
COST – $225 (chamber members only)
REGISTER – Go to Chamber of Commerce at 101 E. Bay Street
CONTACT – Jared Downs ([email protected])


Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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