Washington County has earned UGA’s Connected Resilient Community designation after working alongside University of Georgia partners to complete multiple projects designed to make them more attractive to economic development.

Washington County was awarded the CRC designation during the 32nd Annual Public Service and Outreach Meeting and Awards Luncheon, after completing three community-identified projects.

“We’re excited to connect communities to the resources and expertise at UGA to increase their potential for community-led growth,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “As the state’s land- and sea-grant university, University of Georgia’s mission is to help communities improve opportunities for economic development through our resources.”

Washington focused its resiliency efforts on community health, tourism and long-term strategic planning. UGA Archway Partnership™, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, facilitates the CRC program and connects communities with UGA resources to complete their projects.

The first project, receiving a silver CRC medal, was the completion of a community health needs assessment with the assistance of UGA’s College of Pharmacy, Mary Frances Early College of Education and College of Public Health.

With the assistance from a UGA masters of public administration student, the community also garnered funding and completed its gold CRC project, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in downtown Sandersville. The charging stations will help to expand electric vehicle adoption in rural areas, as well as increase stops in Sandersville for those traveling on Traditions Highway 15. The charging stations are the only opportunity on that major north-south thoroughfare for electric vehicle charging.

For its platinum CRC project, Washington County conducted economic development strategic planning as part of the PROPEL program through the UGA Institute of Government – Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership. PROPEL is helping the county to explore critical questions about how to sustain community development initiatives currently underway and how to seize new opportunities. As a PROPEL participant, Washington County gained the tools and resources needed to create and retain healthy infrastructure, economic stability and quality of life.

“The CRC designation is another tool in our toolbox for selling the forward-thinking leadership and economic development possibilities in Washington County,” said Washington County Archway Partnership chairman and development authority director Jayson Johnston.

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.

This year, Frum also announced four new communities for the CRC program: Appling and Grady counties, and the cities of Cartersville and Sylvester.

Selected communities complete three resiliency-building projects over a period of 12 to 18 months.

Washington County worked extensively with CRC Community Engagement Manager Brittany Standifer and Archway Professional Conni Fennell-Burley on developing the CRC projects that earned the designation.

The University of Georgia won the 2022 national Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) highest award for public service and community engagement for the Archway Partnership.

Learn more about the Connected Resilient Community initiative.

Contact: Brittany Standifer, 706-483-3264, brittany.standifer@uga.edu