Georgia Forward

On August 25, the first Georgia Forward event was held at the Macon State College Conference Center.  The event was coordinated by Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and involved an 18-person steering committee from across Georgia.  More than 200 leaders from academic, civic, economic and government organizations attended.  The purpose of the Georgia Forward event was to provide an opportunity for a large group of individuals from across Georgia to discuss statewide issues and begin to address the perception of “two Georgias.”

The phrase “two Georgias” is often used for characterizing the differences between urban and rural areas of the state.   A survey was conducted prior to the event with 139 individuals.  The survey did not reach agreement on the number of Georgias.  Most participants of the survey stated that many “Georgias” existed.  The discussion of many Georgias continued during the day, with many participants reflecting that Georgia is a diverse state with many different communities and needs.  The biggest challenges that the survey respondents listed for Georgia during the next 10 years were: education, lack of public transit, water equity and jobs.

A facilitated session occurred in the morning with the goal of crafting a common vision around the question of “What should Georgia focus on over the next 10 years?”  The results of the discussion were the following list of priorities.

1. Cultivate, support and demand ethical leadership

2. Provide appropriate transportation options across the state

3. Provide a greater range of adult educational opportunities/reduce illiteracy

4. Make dramatic improvement in student performance

5. Increase investment in early childhood development/reduction of poverty

6. Create a stronger economy/bring 21st century jobs to Georgia

The lunch speaker was Anita Brown-Graham, the Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues in North Carolina.   The Institute conducts an annual conference, most recently held in February 2010, which was attended by more than 1,200 participants.  The Institute is housed at North Carolina State University.  More information on the Institute can be found at: http://ncsu.edu/iei/

Next steps for Georgia Forward include:

  • Sponsor or coordinate Georgia-to-Georgia “LINK” type trip
  • Host Legislative Open House during 2011 Session
  • Create smaller regional forums that feed into annual Forum (e.g., Georgia Forward Mountains; Georgia Forward Coast.)
  • Grow Forum to 2-3 day event
  • Find funding and statewide support

More information on Georgia Forward can be found at: www.georgiaforward.org

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