Speaker Ralston Announces North Georgia Office of the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation in Ellijay

(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.

“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”

The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”

Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.

“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.

“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.

“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.

Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.

For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.


Newly-Formed Development Authority Shares Mission and Vision

Development Authority, News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The newly-formed development authority shared their mission and vision with the public during their first official meeting on Monday, June 3, 2019 at the Blue Ridge City Hall.

The mission of the Downtown Development Authority, as read by board member Michelle Moran, “is to enhance the economic potential, and preserve the historical character, of the downtown district through promotional activities, development, and an organizational structure that focuses on community involvement with local business’, residents, and other citizens.”

Moran continued that the vision, though not yet approved, is that “Blue Ridge is Appalachia’s most inclusive, family-friendly, fresh water destination featuring world-class dining and shopping, a growing economy, entrepreneurial opportunity, and all-season recreation. The city of Blue Ridge is also designated Georgia Community Authority and Georgia Council for the Arts. We are committed to preserving our unique community while maintaining a vital, successful and attractive downtown for our residence, merchants and visitors. All citizens of Fannin County will have a greater appreciation, respect and understanding for the historic center. The Central Business District (CBD) will be valued as a vibrant economic and cultural district and a vital contributor to the communities heritage and identity. The CBD will be better because of the partnerships, investments and enhanced sense of place. Blue Ridge will have an enhanced quality of life in which to live, work and play.”

The Vision statement approval has been tabled until further modifications can be made, so changes are to be expected.

One thing board member Jay Hamilton wished to clarify, in response to a question from a citizen attending the meeting, is what exactly a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is and what a DDA does. Hamilton states that a DDA has several purposes.

They are used in cities throughout the state as a mechanism to revitalize and re-develop municipal central business districts. The purposes are outlined by four P’s: protect, powers, projects and potential.

For protect, DDA’s are regulated by state statute so they can provide protection to cities who work through their DDA’s. Example, cities are not liable for their DDA’s debts or contracts.

For powers, DDA’s have certain powers granted by the state that cities don’t have. For instance, to acquire by purchase, lease, or otherwise, in the whole lease and dispose of real and personal property. So they would be able to acquire buildings, etc. and lease them back to the city, etc.

For projects, DDA’s are charged with re-development of their service area and completing projects. For an example, the acquisition and renovation of downtown properties for target business recruitment and expansions.

For potential, DDA’s are concerned only with their mission and projects, not the burdens of the local government. So board members have the potential to solve problems and engage in sustainable redevelopment.

Hamilton went on to say that grants, fundings and so on are available to the Downtown Development Authority that simply aren’t available to the city.

Several board members were absent from the meeting, and there’s much that needs to be re-examined and modified moving forward. Fetch Your News will be attending upcoming meetings with the newly-established Downtown Development Authority, so be sure to stay tuned for future updates!

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Fannin FFA Team Places in the Area Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event

Rebel's Corner

The Fannin FFA Nursery/Landscape Team recently placed 4th in the Area I FFA Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event. The event was held at Pickens County High School on February 26, 2019.

The Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in plant materials, plant disorders, cultural practices, design and construction, supplies and equipment, safety, interpersonal relations, marketing and records and reports.

FFA is a national organization of over 600,000 members preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. FFA is an integral part of the agricultural education program in public schools. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

Cherie White is the Fannin County FFA advisor. The Nursery/Landscape Career Development Event is sponsored by the Georgia FFA Foundation.


Pictured from left to right: Kayden Couch, Samantha Patterson, Brooke Crowder, and Layne Epperson

Maintenance And Roadway Repair Begins On Appalachian Development Highway In Fannin County

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Georgia DOT begins asphalt repair on Appalachian Development Hwy in Fannin County  


BLUE RIDGE, Ga.– Georgia DOT advises motorists on State Route (SR) 515/ Appalachian Development Highway   in Fannin County that a maintenance crew is set to begin today its work on repairing and deep patching the deteriorating asphalt and concrete spots on this highway.  Work will proceed daily today and tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and will force pacing traffic on the state route. This maintenance operation and the lane closure it necessitates are weather permitting and subject to change.

It is the Georgia DOT policy to repair and maintain Georgia interstates and state highways promptly, efficiently and economically using well-planned activities such as deep patching, proper equipment, and skilled and dedicated employees. Prompt repair of small asphalt pavement defects has significant impacts on reducing maintenance costs. Deep patching which will be used in this maintenance operation is one of the methods Georgia DOT uses to repair deteriorated, settled, cracking and dislodged pavement. As used by GDOT, deep patching provides a reasonable measure of roadway repairs and reduces maintenance costs.

You know that construction work zones are dangerous, but do you know that they are not always stationary? Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, asphalt repair, mowing, edge pavement repair, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently. Treat moving work zones like any other – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. Work zone safety is in your hands.

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