U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

USDA Expands Partnership to Create Thriving, Livable Communities That Will Attract People and Jobs to Rural Georgia

Deborah Brumfield
Milledgeville, GA
Release Date

Milledgeville, Ga., Jan. 26, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Reggie A. Taylor today announced that the University of Georgia is expanding its placemaking activities under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC). The expansion will help more leaders of rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit and learn.

As of today, the University of Georgia is expanding its placemaking activities to Baldwin, Ben Hill, and Burke Counties. Ben Hill County is also participating in an all-of-government approach known as the Rural Partners Network to help rural people access federal funding and resources to help them thrive. 

In November 2022, USDA Rural Development announced that it is supporting the University through a $249,980 award that the school will administer through a program called PROPEL, Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership.

PROPEL will use the funds to develop a strategy to support economic development projects, analyze data and develop an economic strategy that capitalizes on a community’s unique needs and assets.

In addition to Baldwin County, Ben Hill County and Burke County, USDA is also providing RPIC support in Appling County, Grady County, Pulaski County, Washington County; and the Lower Chattahoochee Joint Development Authority, which includes Clay, Quitman, Randolph and Stewart counties.

Each community will identify a core team of community leaders, such as economic development professionals, elected officials, community representatives and leaders in education and business, to lead the placemaking efforts. Over a two-year period, the teams will learn to analyze economic and labor market data and identify community resources that drive growth.


In addition, the PROPEL Placemaking Collaborative has three main objectives; build the capacity of rural community leaders for placemaking and community planning, develop a community placemaking strategy and assist communities with implementing their community placemaking plan.

Through the Rural Partners Network, Grady and Ben Hill counties, the City of Fitzgerald, and 14 other counties in Georgia are receiving full-time support from a team of federal community liaisons assigned to assist community planning efforts, provide technical assistance, and support successful applications for program funding.

Led by USDA Rural Development, the Rural Partners Network is an alliance of federal departments and commissions working directly with selected community networks to expand rural prosperity through job creation, infrastructure development, and community improvements. RPN members collaborate to identify resources to help rural people build the futures they envision for the unique places they call home. More information can be found at www.RURAL.gov.

The Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) is a collaborative engagement process that helps leaders from rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, play and learn. By bringing together partners from public, private, Tribal, philanthropic communities, and technology sectors, placemaking is a wrap-around approach to community and economic development that incorporates creativity, infrastructure initiatives, and vibrant public spaces.

For more information about the program, visit www.rd.usda.gov/rpic. To access a placemaking toolkit and additional resources, visit: Rural Placemaking | Rural Development (usda.gov)

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate, smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.