RALEIGH -Transportation leaders from across the Southeast will convene in Asheville, Aug. 24-28, as the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) hosts the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO). This year's theme is "Transportation. The Driving Force of a Strong Economy." Representatives from 12 state departments of transportation and Puerto Rico, as well as local and federal transportation agencies and private-sector companies, will gather to exchange ideas and best practices on the topic through a series of information sessions and panel discussions. Each state is required to host the conference every 13 years and to have its transportation secretary serve as SASHTO president that same year. 2013 is North Carolina and Secretary Tony Tata's turn in that rotation.
About 1,000 visitors are expected to travel to Asheville for the conference, and organizers are partnering with many area businesses to help boost the local economy.
"Everything we do is about investing in our people and our state, providing greater connectivity and increasing economic competitiveness," said Tata. "This is an important opportunity to work closely with other states, learn from each other, and look for better ways to enhance our country's transportation network."
Governor Pat McCrory will join Secretary Tata for the SASHTO 2013 opening kickoff with a focus on team work and strong collaboration among government agencies on Monday, Aug. 26, at 8:30 a.m.
Other featured speakers include:
N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John SkvarlaFederal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) President Mike Lewis.
The 2013 SASHTO conference at Asheville's Omni Grove Park Inn features more than 20 professional development sessions in the areas of transportation and economics, efficiency and excellence in project development, and excellence in service delivery. Awards will also be presented to the winners of AASHTO's America's Transportation Awards.
Local Economic Impact
Based on planned events and activities, the conference will have an estimated immediate direct economic impact of more than $1 million. Additional indirect economic impacts will come from dining, shopping, the purchase of fuel and other activities.
To further support the local economy, each attendee will receive SASHTO dollars, funded entirely through conference receipts, which are redeemable at local merchants just like cash. SASHTO 2013 partnered with the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau and local merchants to offer the program at nearly 80 local businesses. NCDOT was the first state to offer the dollars when it hosted the conference in Asheville in 2001 as a way to encourage visitors to shop locally. Other host states have since offered the program.The SASHTO 2013 Committee also partnered with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance to provide delegates a Love Asheville - Go Local card, which offers additional discounts at more than 350 local businesses, including restaurants, shops and boutiques.
Supporting Education through SASHTO
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 800 Go Local Cards purchased by SASHTO organizers was donated to the