Ga. Smart grant eyed by county

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

A pro­gram be­ing put to­gether by Ge­or­gia Tech will award four com­mu­ni­ties statewide a chance at get­ting the money they need to help for plan­ning for a more dig­i­tally- fo­cused fu­ture.

Polk County wants to be one of those who has a chance at $50,000 in grant money from the univer­sity’s pro­gram in the Ge­or­gia Smart Com­mu­ni­ties Chal­lenge al­ready un­der­way. Com­mis­sioner Jose Igle­sias asked for per­mis­sion to seek out the grant to be added to the April reg­u­lar ses­sion’s agenda, and then ex­plained he wasn’t ask­ing for any­thing more than to see what more details were avail­able.

The grant is de­signed to give a com­mu­nity — whether a gov­ern­ment or non-gov­ern­ment en­tity — cash to start work­ing on a va­ri­ety of tech­nol­ogy-re­lated im­prove­ments they can make to the com­mu­nity who wins the grant, whether it be nar­row­ing the dig­i­tal di­vides in com­mu­ni­ties by us­ing the money to seek out in­vest­ment for im­prov­ing con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions, work­force de­vel­op­ment, and much more. How­ever, when the seed money is de­liv­ered upon and the pro­gram an­nounces the win­ning project pro­posal, they’ll have nar­row goals in mind on who will likely be on the re­ceiv­ing end.

Four com­mu­ni­ties will be awarded funds based on their project pro­pos­als and po­ten­tial out­comes. Two of those com­mu­ni­ties will be from Ge­or­gia as a whole, while two oth­ers will be specif­i­cally from the metro At­lanta area. Thus far, dozens of com­mu­ni­ties across the state have al­ready shown in­ter­est, in­clud­ing Chat­tooga, Floyd, Bar­tow and Pauld­ing coun­ties.

“Ac­cord­ing to ACCG map here in Dis­trict 1, there are only three oth­ers in coun­ties com­pet­ing,” Igle­sias said. “I think we have a good chance if we put our minds to it.”

Many of the ap­pli­cants are from the metro At­lanta area as well.

Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved of al­low­ing Igle­sias and county IT di­rec­tor David Smith move for­ward with putting in a project pro­posal for the grant, with an ap­pli­ca­tion dead­line of May 1. The pair at­tended an April 9 work­shop on the project. He al­ready has sev­eral ideas of how the money might be used, from pro­vid­ing a green en­er­gy­based light­ing project for the Silver Comet Trail for safety pur­poses at night, to a pos­si­ble adult work­force ed­u­ca­tion ele­ment in­volv­ing Ge­or­gia Tech.

Much of those details and a final de­ci­sion on which way to go on a pro­posal will be de­cided in the days ahead as Igle­sias brings the Ge­or­gia Smart Com­mu­ni­ties Chal­lenge project to the Tech­nol­ogy Com­mit­tee as a topic of dis­cus­sion on Tues­day af­ter press time. Igle­sias also promised to pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion on how much match­ing funds would be re­quired for the county to use if the grant were re­ceived.

The board will have to vote again on whether they’ll ap­prove re­ceiv­ing the grant from the Ge­or­gia Tech-based pro­gram be­fore any ac­tion will be taken to move for­ward. That is only if Polk County is an­nounced as one of the four win­ners in the com­ing months.

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