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The Southwest Georgia region could soon become the nation’s first region to be recognized as Age Friendly by the American Association of Retired People (AARP).
Southwest Georgia Regional Commission executive director Suzanne Angell and deputy director Barbara Reddick appeared before the Grady County Commission seeking the county’s support for the initiative.
The Regional Commission executives are seeking to establish a new Age-Friendly Community pilot program that includes the entire territorial jurisdiction of southwest Georgia.
While the project would be advantageous to older adults, the officials from the Regional Commission said that all age groups would benefit.
Supporting the need, officials noted that by 2030, one in five residents of the region will be 65 or older and by 2033 the population of 65-plus years of age in the U.S. will outnumber the population of people younger than 18.
Age-friendly communities are safe, secure, offer affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and have supportive community features and services.
There is no cost to the county and no additional expense to the Regional Commission to apply for the AARP designation. The Regional Commission will serve local governments across the region to provide “collaborative, progressive leadership and professional, technical services, to determine the needs of the region and improve the livability of communities for the citizens of the region,” according to the two women.
Focus areas will include: housing, transportation, community facilities, intergovernmental coordination, economic development, land use, natural and cultural resources.
Much of the process is already part of the local government’s review and updating of its comprehensive plan, which is a state mandate.
The two ladies noted that Macon-Bibb County was the first in the nation to the join the AARP program in 2012, but southwest Georgia would be the first region to seek a regional designation in the nation.
In addition to the public recognition in AARP marketing, the Regional Commission officials said Grady County would benefit from opportunities for partnerships as well as promotion of sustainable economic development that saves money at the local, regional and state level.
County officials seemed open to offering support but due to commissioners Ray Prince and LaFaye Copeland being absent Tuesday, the board requested additional time to consider the proposal before taking action to execute a resolution of support.
Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, told the Regional Commission officials if the board has no issues, the item would be placed on the Feb. 16 agenda and likely would be approved.
According to Angell, Dougherty and Calhoun counties have already voted to support the program and officials have made a presentation to Mitchell County and are awaiting a decision.