ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany State University's President addressed city leaders Tuesday, about the merger of two state institutions.
The talk was centered, surprisingly, around how the future growth of the region will directly affect the success of the merged Albany State University and Darton State College.
And, that the strength of our region's higher education will, in turn, promote more jobs and economic growth.
Albany State's President Dr. Art Dunning presented some startling statistics to city commissioners.
"The fastest growing population in SWGA over the next 15 years will be over the age of 65, it's going to grow 70-percent," said Dr. Dunning.
Dunning, who said he got his facts from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute, said our region will have flat-line growth over the next 15 years, unless some things change.
"What he is really saying to us is that it is incumbent upon us to do things to make things happen so young people want to stay," explained Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.
Dunning suggested that a strong consolidated university with lots of programs will help keep students here through graduation, and that a vibrant community will keep young, educated people here after they get a degree.
"People migrate and move all of the time," said Dr. Dunning. "What causes re-migration from North Georgia to us is having something here."
Something downtown, like the highly anticipated microbrewery, are developments city leaders can point to as attractive for young people.
And with three state institutions, Dr. Dunning called on city leaders to leverage this asset.
"On paper we are a university town, in reality we are not. Where we are sitting downtown could be teaming with students," explained Dr. Dunning.
"I use every opportunity I can to get their ideas when I am thinking about what is the best thing to do to position our city for the future," said Mayor Hubbard.