Georgia’s Regional Planning System: An Evaluation of the State’s 12 Regional Development Commissions

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Bleckley, Claire
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The State of Georgia is comprised of 12 regional commissions, each with their own rich history and agenda. They support local and county governments through the planning process, help address community-wide issues like accommodating aging populations, and provide workforce development opportunities. Under the Department of Community Affair’s (DCA) supervision, each region monitors business development and community growth occurring in each municipality and assists in planning efforts. The DCA then provides financial assistance to these communities through various grant funding and incentive programs. The regional commissions are in place to support Georgia’s Planning Act of 1989 and assist communities in grant writing, business development, research, community surveys, mapping, housing development, building codes, and land use development strategies. While each commission identifies region-wide goals through the planning process, Georgia’s status as a home rule state prevents all but one regional commission, the Atlanta Regional Commission, from enforcing these plans. This option paper is a survey of Georgia’s regional development commissions, the elements of their comprehensive plans and community and economic development strategies, and an evaluation of their strategies to meet the goals identified in their plans. This is not a true evaluative analysis because the regional plans under evaluation are completed infrequently and at different intervals. Due to the often long period of time that passes between large comprehensive planning efforts, community planning values change drastically. Because each Georgia regional commission is so diverse in its geography, economic base, and community practices, a rigorous comparative analysis is difficult to perform. However, evaluating the type of role that a planning commission assumes, whether it is as a consultant, an enabler, or community organizer, helps to identify the effectiveness of planning methods used within the region.
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Masters Project
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