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Rome Confluence
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I often write adventures from the past, but today I am writing about an event that is occurring this very moment - the Rome Confluence.

The Confluence is a celebration of high technology, broadband utilization and the role of makerspaces in changing the manufacturing scene across America. It is a high energy event of regional significance and the Development Authority of Dawson County is proud to be a contributor to Confluence, and its deeper influence on changing the competitive nature of our country.

Opening Confluence is Chris Anderson, the former editor of WIRED Magazine - one of the leading publications on technology, innovation and change in America.

Anderson is now the moving factor behind makerspaces and the revolution in manufacturing in our country. He is joined by folks like Jim Baller from Washington D.C., who is a guru of broadband competitiveness and sustained economies and Greg Richardson, the founder of the 7Hills makerspace and a personal friend of mine.

Over two days Confluence will be host to technology and innovation leaders from across our nation and our region.

So what is the big deal? Recently the development authority was involved in discussions with Robert D. Atkinson who advised both Presidents Bush and Obama about technology and innovation.

Atkinson's observations on why our nation has become in his words a "rust nation" point to the efforts demonstrated at Confluence on what can be done to turn the economic, manufacturing and research fortunes of America back toward the positive.

Confluence lays out the proof that intelligent, energetic minds are in fact at work evolving our nation and its economic base.

Broadband capacity is one of the key links in this evolution.

Dawson County, as a founder of the North Georgia Network, is most definitely a player in this future. Business in America is moving toward more Web and Internet based functions.

Having world class capacity to handle the data these firms will need is a huge positive, and a positive that many parts of our country still lack. NGN is not the end.

The authority is working through various channels to expand that capacity even further and to create new routes that will stretch between Rome, through Dawson and over to Athens. I am proud to announce that part of what should become that physical leg was strung across our county just a few weeks ago.

The end product is still a long way off, but we are getting closer.

Makerspaces were few and far between only 6 years ago. Today these flexible innovation hubs are surfacing everywhere.

Makerspaces are the nucleus of tomorrow's iteration of incubators and design studios.

They are self-perpetuating centers for innovation and tinkering that cater to everyone from high school students to retired baby boomers.

Richardson's 7Hills is a prime example of what can be accomplished by those that have an innovative desire.

Locally, the development authority has provided consulting on makerspaces as we work to cooperatively generate such facilities here.

In recent months I have helped Big Canoe with initial plans on how to create a makerspace for their community.

I have been part of a grant application by the University of North Georgia to create their D.A.R.T. design studio on the main campus.

D.A.R.T. will be a hybrid makerspace.

The authority, with the Chestatee Library System, is developing plans to host a rural maker faire later this spring in Dawson County. Modeled after the Atlanta Maker Faire, which has only been in existence for a few years, the local version will highlight people using technology, creativity and design from our region.

Confluence is influence. It shows where technology is and where it is heading.

In my office sits a 3D printer which was state of the art in 2008. I will be replacing it personally this spring because its technology is already out of date.

America is moving fast into a technologically more advanced world.

Those of us at the Rome Confluence are not satisfied existing in a "rust nation." We are building a much better future than that.

Charlie Auvermann is a longtime Dawson County resident and former editor of the Dawson Community News. He is also the executive director of the local development authority.