Four New Communities Join UGA’s Connected Resilient Communities Program

Brittany Standifer

Thursday, May 2nd, 2024

The newest participants in the University of Georgia’s Connected Resilient Communities (CRC) program were announced recently at the 33rd Annual UGA Public Service and Outreach Meeting and Awards Luncheon at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel in Athens. The city of Fort Valley, along with Claxton-Evans County, Madison County and Pulaski County are all joining the program. Appling County, Newton County, Grady County, and the city of Thomaston completed their work in CRC and were awarded the Connected Resilient Community designation at the event.

The CRC program, facilitated by the award-winning UGA Archway Partnership™, helps communities tap into the resources and expertise at UGA to address local issues and become more attractive to economic development. CRC communities partner with experts from UGA to complete three projects, over 12 to 18 months, designed to increase resiliency. Communities receive silver and gold medals after projects one and two, respectively, and a platinum medal after project three, signifying they have earned the CRC designation through extraordinary planning, collaboration and partnership with UGA to build a prosperous future

“We’re excited to welcome these communities to this new cohort of Connected Resilient Communities,” said Brittany Standifer, Archway’s community engagement manager. “Through partnership with the University of Georgia, we hope this opportunity will empower these communities to work collaboratively and utilize the resources and expertise of the university to prepare for the future.”

The Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost launched the CRC program in late 2021, with support from the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. The program has grown thanks to a generous gift from the UGA Foundation.

The CRC program was born out of a desire to extend the reach of the Archway Partnership, a Public Service and Outreach unit created to enhance UGA’s land-grant and sea-grant mission of teaching, research and service while addressing self-identified community issues across the state.

To be competitive, rural areas need to be able to demonstrate they have the housing to accommodate new employees, contribute a qualified workforce and provide the services a company expects for its employees—such as health care. CRC will help communities connect to UGA resources in these priority areas.

The cities of Cartersville and Sylvester are in the process of completing their platinum designation projects, with an expected graduation later this year. Thomson-McDuffie County was the pilot community for the CRC program, earning its designation in 2021.

“Madison County is fortunate to be located just “next door” to Georgia’s flagship institution,” said Anna Strickland, president and CEO of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. “We are even more fortunate that this program will facilitate more streamlined and guided access to the University’s resources and expertise, allowing us to build the capacity to thrive and prosper. Our community leadership and other key stakeholders are eager to come to the table today for a better tomorrow.”