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Darton to host Georgia Academy for Economic Development Tuesday

By   /   August 13, 2012  /   Comments Off

Walter L. Johnson II
            Economic developers from all over Southwest Georgia will pay a visit to Darton State College to participate in the Region 10 Georgia Academy for Economic Development (GAED) program Tuesday.  It will be hosted by Darton’s continuing education department.
            Sessions at the GAED will be taught one day a month over a four-month period.  In addition to Tuesday’s opening session, the GAED will also include training sessions on Sept. 28, Oct. 23, and Nov. 14.

The program has been in existence since 1993, starting under former Governor Zell Miller.  It has been offered on an annual basis since 1998.
            The GAED, according to director Corinne Thornton, attracts a fairly high number of participants each year, averaging as many as 400 people per year.
            Encouraging cooperation between counties in regards to economic development is the main goal of the GAED, Thornton added.
            “One of the goals for the multi-day regional academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation,” she 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.”
            As one of the newest four-year colleges in the University System of Georgia, the decision to hold the GAED at Darton was a natural, Director of Continuing Education and Economic Development Michael White said.
            “I could think of no better way and no better place to serve our communities economic development needs than by host(ing) the Region 10 Georgia Academy for Economic Development,” White said.
            With over 6,000 students entering the fall semester, Darton has become an economic—as well as academic—powerhouse.  That’s not to mention that Darton also enjoys a total economic impact of more than $119.4 million to go with almost 1,500 jobs in the region, White added.
            “(Darton) continues to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to (Southwest Georgia’s) economic success through academic programs and its Department of Continuing Education and Economic Development,” he said. “Participants in the 2012 Region 10 Academy will enjoy Darton (State College’s) growing campus, state of the art conference and meeting rooms, in-house catering from our food services department, and the support of our professional staff.”
            The GAED program, Thornton said, “includes training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product, downtown development, quality planning, redevelopment, and other essentials for community success.”
            Additionally, GAED participants will also develop much needed skills such as leadership development, added Thornton.
            “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,” she said.
            As a 2011 graduate, White understands why having a program like the GAED is needed in Southwest Georgia.
            “I found it to be a great opportunity to better understand the economic needs of our region,” White explained. “Even more so, it was an opportunity to meet and work with a diverse group of stakeholders from local politicians, representatives from industry, small business owners, providers of infrastructure, concerned citizens, and community service providers.  Each participant brought a different perspective to the table.”
            For more information about the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, visit their website at http://www.georgiaacademy.org/.
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Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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