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County honored by state for planning efforts
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced last month that Liberty County and six other Georgia communities have received statewide distinction in a program recognizing excellence in community planning.

They each achieved the state of Georgia’s “PlanFirst” designation for 2016.

The distinction acknowledges communities that have a track record of implementing their plans and a history of good plan development. The communities make up the second group to have been given the designation.

“We are honored to recognize these communities for their comprehensive planning and consistent use of their planning strategies,” DCA Director of the Office of Planning and Environmental Management Brian Johnson said. “It is fundamental for sound economic development and enhanced quality of life for residents. DCA values their commitment to planning at the local level.”

The PlanFirst program received 15 applications in its second year. Eligible communities were required to address four primary program criteria focused on having a proven record of plan implementation: goals, leadership, community participation, and implementation. The designation will last for three years, beginning Jan. 1, and enables the communities to take advantage of various incentives that include eligibility for funding and reduced interest rates on certain DCA and Georgia Environmental Finance Authority programs.

“We are in the second year of this program, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that more governments than ever are using their plans to move their communities forward. A fully thought-out plan, with ambitious yet achievable goals, is extremely important in steering a community into a prosperous future,” DCA Planning Outreach Coordinator Adriane Wood said. “The PlanFirst program recognizes those communities and rewards them for shaping their own futures together.”

The newly designated communities join the inaugural group of 10 communities that received the designation last year. The Department of Community Affairs developed the program with a steering committee comprised of partners including the Georgia Municipal Association, Association County Commissioner of Georgia, the Georgia Planning Association, the Regional Commissions, and the University of Georgia Archways program, and other state agencies including the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the Historic Preservation Division and Environmental Protection Division.

The other winners are Columbus-Muscogee County, Dublin, Gwinnett County, Lula, Porterdale and Roswell.

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