State House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, has announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is in the Collaboration on River's Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
"I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia," said Ralston. "This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians -- regardless of zip code."
The center, also known as Georgia's Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She served as executive director of the Dalton Convention & Visitors Bureau for 10 years before moving to a regional position with the Georgia Department of Economic Development as a tourism project manager in 2006.
"Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia's small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships," said David Bridges, Georgia's Rural Center interim director, "and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we're excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office."
Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
"Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber's mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating," remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber chairman of the board.
For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit www.ruralga.org.