Southern lawmakers to meet in Memphis in 2011

On August 21, 2009, in News 2009, by Mark Norris

Peabody is center for 16-state gathering; up to 2,000 expected

By Tom Bailey Jr., Memphis Commercial Appeal
August 21, 2009

The Southern Legislative Conference will return to Memphis in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.

The 65th annual meeting is expected to bring 1,500 to 2,000 legislators, staff members, industry representatives and others from 16 states.

The Peabody will be headquarters for the meeting that convenes July 16-20 that year.

Founded in 1947, the conference of state legislators serves both as an advocacy group around common issues in the region and as a forum to swap ideas.

The conference also issues policy positions that get disseminated to Congress and the White House.

A big reason it is coming to Memphis is Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who will be chairman in 2011.

He wanted it here.

“It’s great exposure for the city and West Tennessee,” Norris, now chairman-elect, said Thursday. “…The last time was in 1949.”

He has been active in the conference since he became a state senator nine years ago.

“It’s a very productive kind of think tank when we convene,” Norris said.

For example, he said, at this year’s conference last week in Winston Salem, N.C., Norris was able to speak with that city’s mayor.

“Who was working hard on, of all things, an aerotropolis,” said Norris, referring to the type of aviation-related development Memphis is pursuing.

“It’s a big deal for Memphis,” said Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane. “Obvi-ously, a conference of this magnitude draws a national spotlight to the community.”

The Southern Legislative Conference is the biggest of four regional legislative groups that operate under the Council of State Governments.

The gathering will be a chance for Memphis to show off, said The Peabody’s general manager, Doug Browne.

“Even more than just for The Peabody,” he said, “it’s great for Memphis to have such a prestigious group choose us to come here.”

— Tom Bailey Jr.: 529-2388

South’s legislators coming

What: 65th Southern Legislative Conference

Where: Memphis, with The Peabody as headquarters. (The conference last met here in 1949.)

When: July 16-20, 2011

Conference chairman in 2011: Tennessee state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville

The states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

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