The legislation that created Georgia’s Rural Center in 2018 painted a simple, clear picture of the situation in which many of the state’s small towns and rural communities find themselves today. As House Bill 951 pointed out, a host of once-vibrant places throughout Georgia are now plagued by population loss, insufficient access to health care and quality education, poor infrastructure, lack of employment opportunities, and a general economic stagnation.
In 2017, rural leaders approached Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College President Dr. David Bridges and Special Projects Director Scott Blount with the idea of creating a rural center for Georgia. Out of the initial conceptual proposal drafted by Bridges and Blount, the team transformed the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation from vision to reality.
Housed at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, which may include community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with non-profits, religious organizations and other higher education partners. With a focus on producing results that directly impact rural people and places, Georgia’s Rural Center works to reconnect the state’s rural and urban people and places, rediscovering all that is unique and extraordinary in the state’s less populated areas and reminding all Georgians of the power and potential present in small towns and crossroads communities.