Campus News Georgia Impact

Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Fanning Institute launch initiative

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development have partnered to pilot a statewide community leadership development initiative called GeorgiaLEADS in conjunction with the celebration of the chamber’s 100th anniversary, which is being marked this year.

The partnership was announced at the annual Georgia Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues Breakfast last month.

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 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, Bulloch, Carroll, Colquitt, Laurens, Richmond, Sumter, Towns, Troup and Washington counties. In addition, regional leadership development efforts are planned for multi-county areas in middle, southwest 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.