Fri., November 16, 2012 6:46pm (EST)

Young Gamechangers Helping Americus
By Ellen Reinhardt
Updated: 1 year ago

ATLANTA  —  
A group of 28 young professionals from across Georgia began a seven-month program on Friday to tackle the economic future of southwest Georgia’s Americus and Sumter County. The program is called  Young Gamechangers. (From left to right, Bardin Hooks, Ben Andrews, Heather Stanley, Kyle Smith, and Justin R. Arnold. photo courtesy of Young Gamechangers)
A group of 28 young professionals from across Georgia began a seven-month program on Friday to tackle the economic future of southwest Georgia’s Americus and Sumter County. The program is called Young Gamechangers. (From left to right, Bardin Hooks, Ben Andrews, Heather Stanley, Kyle Smith, and Justin R. Arnold. photo courtesy of Young Gamechangers)
A group of 28 young professionals from across Georgia began a seven-month program on Friday to tackle the economic future of southwest Georgia’s Americus and Sumter County. The program is called Young Gamechangers.

Amir Farokhi, director of Georgia Forward, is leading the program. Why focus on Americus?

“We wanted to look at a community south of Macon that has kind of a strong agricultural base, but also has a number of other strengths. But had not yet really established itself as kind of a vibrant 21st century rural community beyond the agricultural context.”he says.

Ben Andrews grew up in Americus and is now the community development coordinator for the city. He says a lot of his friends moved on to bigger cities, and he wants to change that.

“We’re really looking at what we can do to keep those young people staying here. What can make Americus more attractive to businesses that would want to come in. And this really gives us the perspective of young people from across the state.”he says.

Farokhi , says they’ve given the Gamechangers three challenges.“How do you make Americus, Sumpter County a place where the young, entrepreneurial and, or retirees want to be. What economic opportunities is Americus, Sumpter County missing out on. And three, what is Americus, Sumpter County’s story to the world?”

Farokhi says they turned to young professionals ages 20 to 40 for fresh ideas about Georgia’s future.

28 year-old Ashley Meggitt is with the Georgia Municipal Association

She says she is participating in Gamechangers because “Americus, Georgia isn’t the only city that needs to tackle this problem of keeping their youth. We have so many cities across the state of Georgia that are trying to tackle the same exact problem. So each city can leverage their resources differently.”

The Gamechangers will deliver suggestions for local leaders next year.