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Recent graduates of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development training academy are, standing, from left, Scott Purvis, Georgia Power Representative; Ryan Garnto, Chris Hatcher, Scott Addison, Don Gray and Jenny Robbins, Georgia EMC Representative. Seated, from left, are Barbara Francis, Chad Warbington and Cynthia George

ATLANTA — The Board of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development recently announced a list of Dougherty County graduates from its 2019 Region 10 MultiDay Training Program. Class participants represented a number of professional and non-professional economic development fields, including elected officials, public servants, business leaders, educators, and social service providers from 10 counties in southwest Georgia.

The academy provided each of the graduates an opportunity to gain a unique understanding of the complexities of economic and community development on the local, regional, and state levels.

Dougherty County graduates at the November ceremony included Scott Addison, Barbara Francis, Ryan Garnto, Cynthia George, Don Gray, Chris Hatcher and Chad Warbington.

Created in 1993, the academy assembles a cross-section of economic development professionals and resources to provide this training in all 12 service delivery regions in Georgia. The board of directors of the academy represent public and private economic development organizations and agencies from across Georgia. Since its organization, the academy has provided training for thousands of professional and non-professional economic developers around the state, and since 1998 the academy has been offered annually in all 12 regions of the state. Georgia EMC and Georgia Power provide facilitators for the program, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs provides staff support to this important program.

“Our Community Development team is proud to partner with and provide facilitation and presentation services on behalf of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives,” Georgia EMC Vice President for Community and Economic Development Pat B. Merritt said in a news release. “Involved since its inception, the team’s work with the academy graduates has enhanced levels of leadership capacity and community development preparedness for continued economic development progress throughout the region.”

In Region 10, CED cooperative members are Colquitt EMC, Diverse Power — Patuala District, Mitchell EMC and Sumter EMC.

“Georgia Power has historically played — and continues to play — a major role in the state’s economic development,” Georgia Power Community Development Manager Johnna Robinson, chair of the Georgia Academy board, said. “The academy participants build relationships, share best practices, and learn about important issues and challenges facing our communities. We’re proud to be a partner in this important effort, preparing our leaders for continued economic growth throughout the state.

“The academy has formalized the opportunity to bring together stakeholders to share best practices, leverage expertise, and build relationships among our communities with the same goal in mind: ensuring economic growth and prosperity for our state. We are proud of the strong partnership that delivers this program in each of our regions every year.”

The academy, officials say, helps spur cooperation among counties within a specified region.

“One of the goals for the multiday regional academies is to encourage multicounty cooperation,” Kelly Lane, director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development said. “Many times the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region, and can then combine limited resources to address the issue.”

The academy’s multiday program, taught one day a month over a four-month period, includes training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product development, downtown development, planning, and other essentials for community success. In addition, the curriculum features specific leadership skills such as consensus-building, ethics in public service, collaborative leadership and other segments needed for effective community leadership in economic development.

Local elected officials may receive certification training credits through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association for completion of this program.

The next Region 10 Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in August. For more information, contact Gina Webb at (404) 387-1429 or by email at gina.webb@dca.ga.gov.

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