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Economic Diversity study set to be presented in March
Summary shows county in good position to grow, but needs to manage development
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A study conducted by the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute has outlined key economic issues that Bryan County needs to address if it wants to diversify.

While the final revised version isn't set to be presented to the public until sometime in March, a summary of the Economic Diversification of Bryan County said the county’s "community vision centers primarily on its desire to grow quality jobs and industry, achieve diverse and balanced growth, and to create a highly livable community with an equally high quality of life."

County Administrator Phil Jones said the study is beneficial to the county in that it tells the leaders how they should proceed in the future.

"I think it’s very beneficial," Jones said. "It formulated the whole county and put (all the stats) together."

Jones said Bryan County is currently 72 percent residential, putting much of the tax burden on the residents.

"The county is subsidized now by homeowners," he said. "If we bring in more business we reduce the burden on homeowners."

Joy Wilkins, the manager of community innovation services at Georgia Tech, said

the project was conducted for communities that are somewhat dependent on military bases. She said part of completing the study included interviewing 35 "stakeholders," – people from within the community from business owners to the public at large – and 20 state and regional economic development partners that provide services to Bryan County.

After comparing the internal and external perceptions of Bryan County, Wilkins said the study concluded with five of the most significant issues affecting Bryan County.

"Really, (Bryan County) is ripe for different possibilities," she said. "The most critical thing is to set its bar for quality development and have higher expectations for what it would like to be. Not that it hasn’t had high expectations, but considering its position and growth, it’s in a really great spot strategically to see some great opportunities."

"This is important because Bryan County can afford to be selective," Jones said.

The Economic Diversification of Bryan County study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment and supported by the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center.


About the study

In the study, Georgia Tech identified five key issues that they feel are within the ability of the county to address and the recommended strategic goals:


- The county is split by Fort Stewart, and Georgia Tech recommends the county work to strengthen its foundation through relationship building efforts.

- Because of its growth, Bryan County is at risk of mismanaged or disconnected development. It is recommended this be prevented by having the county focus on higher expectations for development.

- Because of its position, Bryan County can afford to be strategic in its choices, and they should do so by bringing in businesses that will offer greater economic advantages and have a lowest risk of community degradation.

- Bryan County should create programs to boost competitiveness of its businesses, and to do so should focus on creating business retention programs for businesses of all sizes.

- While the county is excelling in some areas of workforce development, there should be more emphasis on preparing workers for a global economy. It is recommended by the study that Bryan County focus on aligning its training and education with the skills required by current and future industry.

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