ATLANTA, GA (WALB) - House Speaker David Ralston and the leadership of the House Rural Development Council (RDC) today announced the creation of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, and it will be headquartered in Tifton, on the campus of Abraham Baldwin College at Gaines Hall.
The RDC is co-chaired by State Representatives Terry England (R-Auburn) and Jay Powell (R-Camilla). State Representative Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) serves as vice chair of the council.
"ABAC is a natural home for the center with its geographic location, talent and resources," said Rep. Powell. "They have the ability to work with other USG institutions as well as all state agencies to move all of rural Georgia forward."
"The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) was created by the General Assembly and Governor Deal as the state's central resource for research and training on economic development and opportunity in rural Georgia," said Speaker Ralston.
"Georgia's rural communities face many unique challenges, and the RDC has worked meticulously to identify these challenges and present workable solutions," said Rep. Watson of Moultrie. "It has been a great honor to work alongside my Georgia General Assembly colleagues to pass legislation for the good of rural Georgia, and I'm pleased that one such bill will soon establish the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation to provide our state's rural citizens with vital support."
House Bill 951, sponsored by State Representative Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) during the 2018 legislative session, provided for the establishment of the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. This center, which will be located within ABAC, will serve as a central information and research hub for rural leadership training and best practices. The center will also partner with public and private community stakeholders to identify and support projects that will lead to prosperity through entrepreneurship, job creation, community engagement and cultural enhancement.
"From the beginning, we said the Rural Center would be outcome-based, and that is precisely what we plan to be— less of a 'think tank' and more of a work horse," said President Bridges. "We believe it's time to reintroduce all that this state's small towns and rural communities have to offer."
Representative Jay Powell represents the citizens of District 171, which includes portions of Colquitt, Decatur, and Mitchell counties.
Representative Sam Watson represents the citizens of District 172, which includes portions of Colquitt, Thomas, and Tift counties.
Representative Jason Shaw represents the citizens of District 176, which includes all of Atkinson and Lanier counties and portions of Lowndes and Ware counties.