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UGA partnership with Ga. Chamber launches new initiative

ATHENS — The Georgia Chamber of Commerce announced at its annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast recently, that it will partner with the University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development to pilot a statewide community leadership development initiative called GeorgiaLEADS in conjunction with the celebration of its 100th anniversary, which is being marked this year.

GeorgiaLEADS will work with existing community leaders to develop programs specifically tailored to the needs of individual communities. Youth leadership development is expected to be a focus for many communities as one way to strengthen local workforce development efforts. The initiative also will train local program coordinators and volunteers to ensure that the programs are locally sustainable.

The Fanning Institute — a unit of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach — has a long-standing relationship with nearly every county in the state, developing community and youth leaders through training, education and technical assistance.

“Local chambers of commerce have expressed a desire to enhance local leadership programs, knowing that strong leadership is linked to economic and community vitality,” said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute. “We look forward to working with the Georgia Chamber in support of the GeorgiaLEADS initiative.”

“This initiative is unique because it is community-driven and supported by the private sector,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. “Experts from Fanning will ensure that youth and community leadership programming is tailored to the individual needs of each of the communities. Likewise, the Georgia Chamber is eager to be a partner in GeorgiaLEADS because businesses recognize the importance of strong leadership in communities.”

This year 10 counties and three regions will serve as pilot communities; over the next five years, 30 communities and seven regions are expected to participate. The partnership has identified the following counties as pilot communities: Appling County, Bulloch County, Carroll County, Colquitt County, Laurens County, Richmond County, Sumter County, Towns County, Troup County and Washington County. In addition, regional leadership development efforts are planned for multi-county areas in Middle Georgia, Southwest Georgia and Northwest Georgia.

Members of some pilot communities met with Fanning faculty following the Eggs and Issues Breakfast to begin the planning phase of the initiative.