ALBANY, GA (WALB) - More than a year-long process identifying both the assets and the challenges of one community has wrapped up, and leaders are now looking over a 300-page draft that, once approved, will be sent to Atlanta.
The Albany-Dougherty Comprehensive Plan might be a state mandate every ten years, but county leaders say it is also a useful tool to help them make choices they hope will grow Southwest Georgia.
Based on the Plan, growing people in Albany is a high priority.
Paul Forgey, Planning Director, says "One of the big issues with the plan is we are losing population, and not significantly, but we are not growing."
It's a very small population loss during the last census, about .3%, but it's enough to have community leaders thinking about ways to not only keep people from leaving Albany, but bring people back home.
Forgey says Albany is not alone trying to stimulate population growth, "Focusing on those things that will improve the quality of life and bring people to the county or keep the ones here that we have, it's an issue all over rural Georgia, Southwest Georgia, keeping the young people here."
Having great natural resources, and a high quality of life, are reasons for leaders to think the community can attract more people.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas says "All of our stakeholders are part of one unified discussion and it's a cohesive plan that is really grabbing hold here in the community."
Cohilas says that while the community is benefiting from strong intergovernmental communication, supporting education is the bottom line for future success in Albany and Dougherty County.
"Education drives real estate, real estate drives profit, profit drives taxes, taxes drives infrastructure, and infrastructure attracts people and that's what we need in this community."
The plan, after local approval, will be sent to the state for approval by the Department of Community Affairs.