Dublin is a small city with an urban feel tucked away in rural Middle Georgia. That’s what a group of business and economic development leaders from around Georgia discovered when they studied the Laurens County community. There's a skyscraper… and the mayor now lives downtown. Dublin is growing, despite the typical challenges facing downtowns across Georgia. It’s doing well. But could it do better? That’s what city leaders want to know. They decided to ask GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechangers program to take a look.
34 people made up of young professionals between the ages of 20 and 40 who work in diverse sectors including business, law, non-profit, arts and culture, education, finance, politics, tourism, marketing, urban and economic development spent six months exploring ideas and solutions to help Dublin. They spent two working weekends in Dublin meeting with key stakeholders, learning about the history of the area, exploring neighborhoods, and visiting a variety of businesses and organizations.
Kris Hattaway is Program Director for GeorgiaForward’s Young Gamechangers program and says Dublin is thriving. “They have a lot going for them. One of the reasons GeorgiaForward chose Dublin-Laurens County is because they have cooperative leadership and already have some great things in the works. We felt that there was more opportunity for this group of young people to look at this community and make recommendations that have a chance of being implemented because this is a community that wants to make things happen.”
Participant Ingrid Varn is Executive Director of the Vidalia Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our group looked at gateways into Dublin. We really want to help them create a consistent look and a brand that stands out. Interestingly, we looked at Orlando, Florida as a model. When you approach that city, you know exactly where you are.”
Christopher Cooper is a two-time Who’s Who in Black Atlanta. “We studied the international appeal of Dublin and looked at education as a catalyst for international expansion.” says Cooper. “The area needs to think internationally to attract internationally. We were excited to learn that there is a new International Baccalaureate program at Dublin High School. This program will help prepare students to go to Ivy League schools. Not only is that good news for area residents, but we think if they promote this, along with a few of our other educationally-focused ideas, to international companies, it will be a big plus in getting them interested in locating to the area.”
Friday the group will present its other ideas to the mayor of Dublin and city leaders from 2-4pm at the historic Theatre Dublin. The public is invited.