Implementing high-speed Internet in rural Georgia is crucial for training its workforce and attracting international investment so rural Georgia communities can compete in the global economy, according to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who spoke to the state’s Rural Development Council meeting in North Georgia last week.
Mr. Perdue, who is chairman of the council, named Roy Campbell, former mayor of Thomasville, as the new vice-chair of the council during a meeting at Zion Farms Inc. in Armuchee, some 90 miles northwest of Atlanta in Floyd County.
“It’s digital connections that bring the world to Georgia and Georgia to the world,” Mr. Perdue said, noting that high-speed Internet access helps rural businesses to attract international visitors and international investment.
“We need to help rural areas adapt to change, while taking part in the new global economy. Some communities are still feeling the effects of job losses, and we need to help them recover,” he added.
Technology infrastructure, along with economic development incentives for small business, education for rural children and adults and adequate healthcare in rural communities, is part of the basic equation for rural development. Mr. Perdue told the Rural Development Council.
Having high-speed Internet connectivity is also crucial for training young people in rural communities to be better prepared for participation in the global marketplace, new council vice-chair Mr. Campbell told GlobalAtlanta following the council meeting.
He said that the implementation of high-speed Internet in Thomasville businesses and schools, for example, was one of the rural South Georgia city’s initiatives to help it recover from manufacturing job losses suffered in the last 10 years.
Thomasville and surrounding parts of southwest Georgia lost more than 25,000 jobs following the implementation of Nafta, but the region has since replaced those with higher paying jobs in tourism and services industries, in part by implementing new communications technologies in the city, according to Don Sims, president of the Thomasville-Thomas County Chamber of Commerce.
As part of Thomasville’s commitment to bringing in new jobs, Mr. Sims attended the governor’s July trade mission to Canada.
“The crisis ended up to be good for our community because we’ve gotten aggressive in our recruitment efforts,” Mr. Sims told GlobalAtlanta during the trade mission. He said that Thomasville implemented a community-owned citywide fiber optics network to provide businesses and schools with high-speed data connections to the Internet and to one another. This has been a key factor in attracting foreign manufacturers to open operations there and in training the city’s workforce to keep up with the latest technologies and skills, he noted.
Rural Georgia is typically defined as areas of the state associated with farming communities that have populations of less than 5,000 and are outside the limits of any incorporated city.
The Rural Development Council promotes new development opportunities for rural Georgia, collecting and disseminating information about policies affecting community and economic development in rural Georgia.
Mr. Campbell is president of Roy Campbell Chevrolet and serves on the Thomasville City Council. He replaces Mayor Susan Holmes of Monticello who served two years as the Rural Development Council’s vice-chair.
Contact the Rural Development Council at (706) 583-2736 or visit www.dca.state.ga.us for more information. Contact Mr. Sims at the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce at (229) 225-1422 or email@example.com