Ga. Smart grant eyed by county
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.