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Regional Commission Digital Economy Plans- Statewide RCs

Under the auspices of the Georgia Technology Authority, funded by a State Broadband Initiative grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Georgia’s regional commissions participated in the Digital Economic Planning Program, to develop digital economy plans for their respective regions. These plans are concentrated within the individual geographic boundaries, and are unique to their specific region. The purpose of these plans was to inventory and document the existing and future digital needs of the state, including services, technology levels and broadband needs and capabilities. This would help local communities better leverage technological assets and benefit from faster connections to the world around them. (Scroll down for more.)

The planning process was a uniform one across the state. The regional commissions, with oversight provided by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC), held workshops and other public participation opportunities to gather input from local governments, local business entities, and the general public. Part of this stakeholder involvement process included a detailed SWOT© analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats/challenges) to determine local service levels. Out of this process, regional commissions were able to determine strategies for serving their constituents- filling gaps and strengthening existing levels of service.

Several initiatives have developed because of these digital economy plans. For instance: the Middle Georgia RC presented a digital economy summit to a statewide audience in October 2014; MGRC partnered with other interested parties to establish a “makerspace” in Macon, known as SparkMacon, which is up and running successfully.

The River Valley RC was involved with the development of a makerspace in downtown Columbus, Columbusmakesit.com. The RC effort has raised nearly $200,000 in space donations, equipment donations and support. Also, the makerspace has nearly 1,000 friends following the project on Facebook. The makerspace was included in a White House press release on makerspaces across the country. The press release may be found at http://www.rivervalleyrc.org/index.php/planning-community-development/digital-economy. A video that was created for the first meeting in April 2015 is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ2vgniNBjQ .
Brent Lanford
Middle GA RC


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