ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Several state lawmakers said South Georgia teens need to improve their job skills and hope to discuss that topic when the General Assembly gets underway next week.
On Thursday night, several South Georgia legislators held an event at Pretoria Fields Microbrewery in downtown Albany.
Much of the discussion focused on re-energizing rural Georgia, providing affordable healthcare, and strengthening education.
Last year, lawmakers created the Georgia House Rural Development Council with a goal of encouraging economic growth outside of Atlanta area.
The council held several meetings looking at some of the challenges facing South Georgians.
Representative Gerald Greene said he plans to push more bills that curb population loss and develop jobs.
"I have nine counties in Southwest Georgia and they're very poor counties. And we have seen the population loss, we've seen hospitals close, so we understand the issue. So now we are looking for solutions from the rest of the legislator," said Rep. Greene.
Representative Greene explained lawmakers are currently reviewing proposals that came out of the rural development council like giving tax breaks to encourage professionals to stay in Southwest Georgia.
Former educator Senator Freddie Powell Sims will be pushing for bills that ensure schools are fully equipped with resources and staff.
Another priority is creating an environment where students are learning skills that prepare them for the workforce like the 4C Academy which opened this past fall.
"If industries are wishing to expand, if they're wishing to bring in additional employees for a specific skill set, we're ready to provide those workers for them," said Senator Sims.
State Senator Sims said she will also push for affordable healthcare for residents and veterans.
The Georgia General Assembly officially starts back next week on January 8.
Lawmakers will also hold a Southwest Georgia Day on January 11 so residents and business owners can voice their concerns to legislators.