TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Looking for solutions to kick start Southwest Georgia's stagnant economy was the goal of the Georgia House Rural Development Council.
The council was recently created to find ways to encourage economic growth outside the Atlanta area.
Nearly 100 counties in Georgia now have more people who are dying than are being born, an alarming statistic showing Southwest Georgia continues to lose its population. And it's one of the many problems discussed at the state's rural council's first meeting on Monday afternoon.
Day one kicked off in Tifton with state legislators looking at some of the challenges facing South Georgians.
One problem was the lack of an educated workforce.
Other issues were the lack of access to healthcare and the Internet.
Lawmakers also mentioned the dismantling of this idea of two Georgia's, which meant the state's rural communities are being left behind a booming-Atlanta region.
ABAC's President David Bridges spoke to the legislators explaining how investing in people is a key way to making significant progress.
State representative Ed Rynders is one of 15 on the council.
He said the policy will help stimulate rural Georgia.
"We've got problems, where we got to find fixes that isn't just about writing checks but about developing good policy to strengthen South Georgia," said Rynders.
"If we're going to make significant head way and revitalizing rural communities in South Georgia. We got to deal with the people issue, we got to provide leaders," said Bridges.
The Rural Council members will be looking at the best practices in other states.
And they'll be involving key stakeholders like folks in the healthcare and educational communities to to spur growth.
State Representative Rynders said boosting Southwest Georgia's economic development will be a two year process.
The Rural Council plans to tour both north and south Georgia.
The group will be concluding their meeting in Tifton on Tuesday.
They'll be hosting a public meeting in Albany in November.
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