Initiative to cut poverty introduced - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Initiative to cut poverty introduced

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

September 2, 2008

CAIRO, GA (WALB) -  Ninety-one of Georgia's 159 counties are in persistent poverty. The Georgia Rural Development Council wants to cut those poverty rates in half in the next 10 years.  Tuesday in Cairo, they continued to expand an initiative called Communities of Opportunity that they hope will help them achieve that goal.  

Representatives from diverse Grady County agencies were introduced to the Communities of Opportunity Initiative for the first time. 

"We're rolling into the entire southern part of the state. We're going to work with every county in this area, particularly here in region 10. Helping them come up with community development strategies that will really set the course for that community for the next 10 years," explained Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Mike Beatty.

They've already met with agencies in Thomasville and will continue to all of the 14 counties in region 10.  It will eventually be a statewide initiative. It started with a pilot program in region 7 near Augusta. "They came up with what their problems were. We got what their priorities were. And we worked from there," explained Thomasville City Councilman Roy Campbell.

DCA Program Coordinator Patrice Williams added, "We're hoping communities will address social problems like teen pregnancy, drugs, gangs."  From economic development to education strategies and youth leadership, each county has the opportunity to come up with the top areas they want to drive their community.

"It will be an inter-agency approach, but it will be completely locally driven, a bottom up approach. We're going to let the communities, in a series of meetings, really determine what those strategies are," said Beatty.   The goal: making life better for every Georgian, based on their own community's specific needs.

"We have a great quality of life here in Thomasville and Thomas County. We want to continue that," said Campbell.  With the Co-Op program, every community will have that chance. But it will take everyone working together to succeed.

The initial marketing meeting for Decatur County will also be held Tuesday night. The next ones for Colquitt and Seminole Counties will be held on September 8th.

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