Rural Development Strategies SIG

For more information, contact Rural Development Strategies SIG Chair:

Rachel Barnwell Screven County Development Authority   (912) 531-2024

2023 Action Plan

1. Promote multi-county rural development projects by hosting “information sharing” events

2. Work with appropriate agencies to secure ARPA funding for rural areas across Georgia

3. Conduct rural “Best Practices” tours, like the Mill at Etowah tour

4. Utilize resources of UGA CVI around “broadband” initiatives


The following organizations provide grant and loan programs to support economic development opportunities in rural Georgia or focused educational and leadership opportunities for rural economic developers.

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

The School of Business offers a program of study in Rural Studies – both in business and economic development. Learn how you can provide an internship opportunity for one of these students or partner on a research project.

Archway Partnership

The Archway Partnership is a University of Georgia outreach platform evolving to a University System of Georgia platform facilitated by University of Georgia to deliver a full range of higher education resources to address economic and community development. To find out if you are an Archway community, visit

Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia

Drawing upon the knowledge and resources of the University of Georgia, the Institute provides education, assistance, research, policy analysis, and publications to assist public officials in serving citizens in Georgia and throughout the world. Of particular interest to economic developers may be research assistance and training and development as well as publications.

Georgia Grown

Georgia Grown is a marketing and economic development program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture aimed at helping agribusinesses grow.

Georgia’s Regional Commissions

Georgia’s communities are served by twelve regional commissions that offer services from regional planning, grant writing, to economic development, and more. To find out which regional commission serves your community, check out

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University has become an increasingly large presence in the realm of rural development. From the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development to the Rural Health Research Institute, the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, the STEM Institute and more, GSU has resources that may be a great fit for your community and your business partners. For more information, contact Charles E. Patterson, VP for Research & Economic Development at (912) 478-2647, email

Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

EII is Georgia Tech’s primary business outreach organization and works with startup companies, industry, the public sector, and more. To find out what services are available in your region, visit:

National Rural Economic Developer’s Association

The National Rural Economic Developers Association is a member organization dedicated to the advancement of rural economic development through providing education and networking opportunities.

OneGeorgia Authority

OneGeorgia’s programs, such as land acquisition, infrastructure development, airport enhancement and broadband creation, business relocation assistance, entrepreneur support, and more are focused on the economic vitality of rural Georgia. The Authority provides both grants and loans for qualified applicants.

Regional Project Managers (Existing Industry, Tourism, and DCA)

The Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs have individuals helping to address the needs of your community and region. To find out who serves your community go to:

Tourism Team:
Department of Community Affairs:

USDA Rural Development

USDA’s financial programs support such essential public facilities and services as water and sewer systems, housing, health clinics, emergency service facilities, and electric telephone service.

VSU Center for South Georgia Regional Impact

Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact connects South Georgia’s biggest questions with answers from world-class faculty researchers and more than 11,000 students ready to serve their community. Through strategic partnerships with area leaders, Valdosta State University will increase community and regional impact through leading development in and serving as a resource for Industry, Economic Development, Health Care, Arts, Education, Athletics, and other changing economic regional needs that support the growth of South Georgia and the communities our students will serve.

Both GEDA and IEDC offer scholarships for partners serving in less economically advantaged communities.
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Check out GEDA, NREDA, and other groups on Linkedin to find a free forum to chat with other economic developers with common experiences.

Communities across the state, rural and otherwise, rely on small businesses and enterpreneurs as an economic engine. The state’s Small Business Development Centers, microlenders, and other organizations are available resources that you can provide to the small businesses in your community. Check out GEDA’s Entrepreneur & Small Business Development SIG for a list of small business resources and more.

Training, research, lead development, technical services, and much more are available for economic development partners. Electric Cities of Georgia, Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, and Georgia Power all have great economic development and technical services teams to assist you. Contact the VP of Economic Development at the technical college that serves your region to make sure you are linking together to serve your community in an effective way.

If you’re not already a member, join GEDA as a great networking organization and gives you access to resources, partners, and information that will help bring jobs and investment to your community.

View the Rural Development Strategies SIG Roster