Elective Courses

Building a Hometown Connection: GMA Lobbying 101
This course provides an overview of the state legislative process and helps city officials understand how they can be effective advocates of issues important to their community and cities throughout the state. Participants receive ideas for establishing productive year-round relationships with members of the General Assembly as well as practical lobbying tips they can use during the legislative session. The course also includes a hands-on exercise using real-life legislative scenarios.

Business Diplomacy and Protocol
This course exposes city officials to the fundamental elements of professional business etiquette and protocol. As part of the course, participants will be taught to how to make an entrance and work a room, handle introductions, remember names, and treat business prospects, as well as proper seating and dining protocol.

Changing Community Demographics and Best Practices
Formerly entitled "Cultural Diversity and Best Practices", this course examines the immigration and aging trends in Georgia and explores the implications of these changing demographic for cities, both in terms of challenges and opportunities. Time is allocated for representatives from communities that have been significantly impacted by these trends to share their insights and suggestions.

Community and Media Relations
This course examines the importance of building effective working relationships with the media and the role the media plays in informing the public and shaping their opinion of municipal governments. Advice for repairing poor relationships is provided, along with insights on when and how to speak with reporters, especially during times of crisis.

Conflict Resolution
This course explores strategies and techniques for successfully resolving conflict through negotiation and mediation. Emphasis is placed on identifying the sources of conflict and the personality styles of the parties involved.

Creating A Downtown Renaissance: Advanced DDA Training
To be viable, critical masses need to live in or near downtown before it can become a sustainable place in which people also work and play. For this to happen, downtowns must be attractive and safe and must provide desired amenities and services. To successfully attract residents, workers, visitors, and private investment, downtowns need a vision and a plan. A downtown strategic vision identifies development and redevelopment goals for a city’s downtown district and serves as a roadmap for downtown revitalization efforts. Attendees will also learn the basics of navigating BIDs, CIDs, TADs, the Redevelopment Powers Act and Urban Redevelopment Law. (Basic Downtown Development Authorities course is a pre-requisite) 

Critical Issues Courses
On occasion, GMA offers special one-time workshops and training events that address an important municipal issue or concern. If designated as a "Critical Issues Course" by GMA, elected officials receive training credit for completing the course.

Downtown Development Authorities
This course is primarily directed at those who serve on Downtown Development Authorities, but is open to all city officials. Topics include management of downtown as a valuable resource; the role of the authority, board members, and staff; DDA laws; and the day-to-day operations of a Downtown Development Authority.

Environmental Sustainability
This course will explore the environmental issues citizens and elected officials of Georgia currently face such as water quality and quantity, energy conservation, air quality and the handling of solid and hazardous waste. Participants will learn from municipal elected and appointed officials what cities are doing to address these environmental challenges, how to get citizens engaged and how to communicate and promote the environmental message. Participants will also learn how to respond to the challenges of working with state agencies. In addition, resource materials related to state law, state policy and state resources will be provided for officials to take home in CD format.

Fire and Emergency Medical Services
This course will expose city officials to some of the basic concepts involved in providing municipal fire suppression, fire prevention, and emergency medical services. In addition to reviewing applicable laws and codes, the course will cover emerging issues and new technologies.

Georgia's Cities: Heart & Soul of Georgia Bus Tour
This two-day mobile workshop targets municipal elected officials that are interested in downtown revitalization and adjoining neighborhood redevelopment. Workshop participants will be provided opportunities to view actual plans and projects, with officials from the host cities discussing their downtown and neighborhood strategies, their success stories, and their lessons learned. The workshop will include formal presentations and tours of downtown areas and adjoining neighborhoods.

Housing Solutions for Cities: A Key Element to the Economic Development Strategy
This course provides officials with information about housing needs and issues, as well as programs and resources available to assist communities. Participants learn how their respective counties compare with the state as it relates to housing, family size, and income data, as well as how other cities have used available financing to leverage their housing efforts.

Human Resources II
This course focuses on areas of human resource management such as performance appraisal systems; recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining staff; employee benefits; and employee training. The course builds on information provided in Human Resources I, but it is not a prerequisite for Human Resources II.

Law Enforcement Services: Trends and Best Practices
This course familiarizes municipal elected officials with the basic concepts of law enforcement. In addition to reviewing applicable laws, funding mechanisms and staffing models, the course addresses emerging public safety issues, trends and innovations.

Making Citizen Engagement Work in Our Communities
This course will explore the importance of getting citizens engaged in the process of governance. The course will expose officials to the concept of deliberative forums, a method of citizen engagement that brings diverse community interests together to explore policy options and share insights, ideas, and suggestions in a structured setting. Participants will receive tips, tools, and other resources for recruiting citizens, creating productive conversations, and encouraging citizens to be involved in local problem solving.

Managing Growth: Economic and Natural Resource Issues
This course shows city leaders how they can exert meaningful control over how their community grows. Topics include economic and ecological considerations, protecting water quality, regulatory initiatives and regionalization. Promoting infill development and redevelopment, preserving land and capturing private investment are also covered.

Managing Your City’s Risk: (3 Hour Course) - Formerly Risk Management and Insurance
Is your city at risk? This course focuses on the importance of loss control and safety training as a way of reducing insurance claims, and also provides a general introduction of risk management and insurance. Alternative ways to cover municipal risks are also discussed.

Mobile Workshops
Mobile workshops give participants an opportunity to see first-hand how a city has addressed an issue, concern or opportunity. If designated as a "Mobile Workshop" by GMA, elected officials receive training credit for completing the course.

Money, Money, Money … Money!: Funding City Projects and Programs Through Grants and Loans
An essential part of governing is funding, and maximizing and allocating resources. In addition to taxes, enterprise funds and user fees, cities may seek out, identify and pursue funding opportunities through grants and loans. These funding sources can be extremely specific as to project eligibility, and typically come with award and grant administration requirements that should be taken into consideration when applying for the various funding opportunities. This course will provide an introduction to a variety of state and national resources and organizations outlining various funding opportunities. Additionally, this course will detail some of the state, federal and foundation funding sources available to municipalities in Georgia. Finally, an introduction will be provided related to potential city responsibilities that may be required for proper reporting and administration after funding awards.

Multi-day Economic Development Course: (12 Hour Credit)
This course is conducted by the Georgia Academy of Economic Development. Participants must be nominated and attend four days of training over a four-month period. Team projects are required. For information on this course, please contact the Department of Community Affairs. Participants receive 12 units of credit for successfully completing this course.

Municipal Codes and Court: Enforcing Ordinances
This course provides an orientation on the basic operation of municipal courts with respect to the adjudication and enforcement of traffic offenses, certain misdemeanors, and municipal ordinance violations.

Municipal Finance II
This course emphasizes the importance of establishing sound financial policies and provides participants with a better understanding of how to read and understand audited city financial statements, assess the effectiveness of internal accounting controls, and manage a city's cash and investments. This course may be taken before or after Municipal Finance I, which is a required course.

Public Policy Development and Implementation: (3 Hour Course) 
Developing policy to advance the vision of the city is the most important activity that a Mayor and Council perform. This course is designed to give municipal officials an understanding of the importance of that function and the role of the elected officials and professional staff in developing, implementing and evaluating those policies. Participants will learn how to effectively use policy-making models in the development of practical public policy that will benefit their communities and constituents.

Public Presentations and Meet the Media
This course teaches elected officials how to be more effective when speaking to groups or addressing the media. Techniques for developing presentation content and delivery, as well as tips for more effectively dealing with the media, are shared. As part of the course, participants make a brief presentation to their fellow city officials.

Robert E. Knox, Jr. Municipal Leadership Institute
This course is an intensive multi-day seminar that focuses on helping city officials enhance and sharpen their leadership skills. Enrollment is limited so that participants can have a full exchange of ideas with faculty and other municipal officials.  The Leadership Institute seminar is required for municipal elected officials to receive a Certificate of Excellence and Distinction.

Recreation and Parks: Innovations and Best Practices
This course will expose municipal officials to some of the innovations and creative solutions that some of Georgia’s cities have initiated in the development of outdoor and indoor recreation facilities and parks, both active and passive. Participants will also learn how cities are taking advantage of creative ways of generating revenues to fund new and existing facilities and outdoor areas. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the recreation and parks opportunities for their cities and ways to build community support.

Retreats provide an opportunity for city councils to come together, apart from the regular meetings, to prepare for the future. The focus may be on teamwork, goal setting, or other city concerns. Each retreat is tailored to meet the individual city's needs. Credit is given for city council retreats facilitated by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Some cities have an annual retreat, but credit toward the Training Institute certificate is given for a maximum of two retreats.

Revitalizing Neighborhoods: Tools for Local Officials
This course provides an overview of the tools and resources available to cities interested in effectively responding to neighborhood problems such as dilapidated and unsafe structures, unsightly property, junk automobiles, weeds, trash and other nuisances. Topics include Georgia's Urban Redevelopment law, code enforcement and land bank authorities.


Social Media for Elected Officials 
echnology impacts personal lives, work and local government. With the advent of an explosion in the common use of social media this course examines and defines what social media means, how social media can be used by local government including the risks and benefits of such usage. The legal basis for governmental use of social media is reviewed. Sample social media policies are examined and provided. Current law on employer and employee use of social media is explored. Demonstrations on making social media user friendly for both large and small governments are provided. Finally, the impact of records retention, open meetings and open records law are discussed if social media becomes a regular part of the local government’s operations. 


Strengthening Your Community by Strengthening Your Children and Families
This course examines how the well-being of children and families affects the success of community and economic development. The course reviews trends in Georgia and identifies specific strategies that officials can implement in their own communities. "Family Connections" and other state-run programs aimed at reducing the number of at-risk youth and juvenile delinquents are addressed. Problem issues such as teen pregnancies, truancy and teen drug and alcohol use are also discussed.

Technology Solutions for Cities: Innovations and Best Practices
Municipalities must look to new and emerging technologies as one of the primary ways of becoming more efficient and effective, especially in this challenging economic environment. The course will highlight some of the interesting and creative uses of technology that have enabled a number of Georgia’s cities to improve service delivery and responsiveness, as well as make their operations more transparent to the public. The costs and challenges of implementing these technological solutions will be examined. Participants will also learn about new technologies to anticipate in the future and how they may be applicable to municipal operations.

Water Management: An Introduction for Local Governments 
In spite of recent developments in water resource planning, conservation, and supply enhancement, water supply will continue to be a major issue facing all levels of government in Georgia. Furthermore, every two to four years, a new crop of local government officials takes the reins of government and may need to be brought up to speed on water management and water issues in Georgia. The purpose of this course will be to introduce local government officials to the most important aspects of water management from withdrawals at the source to discharge from the local sewage treatment plant. Through short lectures, demonstrations, and case studies this course will cover the basic technical and regulatory aspects of water management, including storm water management, withdrawals, reservoir operations, managing in-stream flows, treatment standards, and the regulatory framework of water management in Georgia.


Courses are 6-hours unless otherwise noted