June 15—VALDOSTA — Nine Georgian communities participated in the first Rural Development Summit.
Communities representing Bacon County, Crawford County, Dawson County, Lanier County, Mitchell County, Peach County, Seminole County, Twigs County and Worth County were selected to participate in workshops with practitioners identifying key resources, trends and best practices for advancing rural economic development and resilience last week.
The 2022 Rural Development Institute Summit is a partnership between Valdosta State University’s Center for Regional Impact South Georgia, economic and community development practitioners, and local leaders seeking resources to take active and applied steps to improve and grow their community, Mill Graves, director of business development, Retail Strategies, said.
Each community participated in a three-day self-assessment and summit identifying three to five priority projects to implement over the next year. Key focus areas included regionalism, leadership, workforce development, industry, health care, retail and small business development.
“After each session, communities are tasked with identifying their unique strengths, challenges, and opportunities to create economic development strategies that give each community a competitive edge to improve quality of life,” Graves said. “The collaborative format encouraged discussion and a call to action for each community. I believe each community came away with a stronger sense of available resources and a renewed focus on opportunities for economic development across the community.”
The program reinforces VSU’s commitment to rural economic development and meeting the resource needs of rural communities across Georgia, university officials said.