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Good economic news for Georgia's rural communities
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Atlanta - During these tough economic times, I'm pleased to deliver some good economic news for the counties within the 51st District.


Governor Sonny Perdue and members of the OneGeorgia Authority Board recently announced $13.4 million in economic development project awards provided to rural Georgia communities.


These awards will assist with a variety of economic development projects in rural Georgia aimed at creating jobs, stimulating new private investment, supporting the retention of existing jobs and enhancing regional competitiveness through capacity-building projects.


These projects, along with their respective local leadership representatives, were recognized at the OneGeorgia board meeting.


These awards included a $240,000 grant to the Lumpkin County Development Authority to support the North Georgia network.


This regional initiative will enhance fiber optic capacity and stimulate economic development and job creation, which is exciting news for the local communities of Lumpkin, White, Dawson, Union and Forsyth counties.


The grant was awarded through the OneGeorgia Authority's BRIDGE - Broadband Rural Initiative to Develop Georgia's Economy - fund, which provides grants for publicly owned infrastructure based on the number of rural counties receiving new or enhanced high speed broadband services.  


The "North Georgia Network" (NGN) has the potential to create a new technology-based economy for the North Georgia Region.


Initial activities will evaluate high-speed connectivity, network redundancy and multiple carrier criteria deemed critical for existing and prospective technology-based companies.


Subsequent activities will include design, engineering and business modeling to test the feasibility of building and operating a North Georgia fiber optic network.


Technology-based companies usually do not lay fiber optics in rural communities due to the input costs. This grant will help us lay the foundation so that these companies will provide services in our area. 


This will have a positive, direct impact on schools, libraries, hospitals and law enforcement to enhance their services, run more efficiently and has a very good chance to increase employment opportunities.  


By modernizing our technology infrastructure, your children's education will improve, medical services will be enhanced and emergency services will run more efficiently. 


Long-term improvements include the accessibility of high-speed Internet access for private, rural homes that may not have it now. 


This is a win-win for everyone in our community and will bring us into the modern-technology age.


I applaud Governor Perdue and the OneGeorgia Authority Board for approving this grant and increasing our communities' economic and technical infrastructure.  


Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9921 or via e-mail at