Georgia lawmakers work to bring growth to rural counties
Central Georgia lawmakers are exploring ways to entice more people to live in rural areas, and one of those areas is in Crawford County.
According to the July 2016 census, Crawford County’s population went down 2.4 percent over seven years.
Jennifer Ogden lives in Roberta, a city in Crawford County.
She says she just moved back and is happy to be close to family and friends again.
“Í knew if I had to go to work again, it would either be in Macon or Warner Robins. Not here most likely,” said Ogden.
But she says living in Roberta also means commuting.
“I’m in the medical field and there's only one doctor here that I know of, so I knew that was probably wouldn’t be something I could get into here,” said Ogden.
Ogden says if there is a way to encourage people to start businesses in Roberta, she is all for it.
“If they could get something like that to happen out here it’d be excellent and great for the community too. I’m sure one doctor is overworked with a whole county’s worth of patients pretty much,” said Ogden.
State Representative Robert Dickey from Musella is one of several Georgia lawmakers working to draft bills during the general assembly to find ways to entice people to move to rural areas like Roberta.
“So many counties in metro areas are doing great, and we really have a problem in our rural areas,” said Dickey.
Dickey says the bills would create incentives, like tax credits, for people who move to 124 Georgia counties.
“I think its 50,000 over 10 years and meeting some other criteria, so it’ll be a long time. That's just an idea thrown out,” said Dickey.
Dickey says their goal is to give young people a reason to come to these communities and establish careers and lives.
It is a plan Ogden says could not only benefit her but other young people like herself.
“It’d be nice to see other young people around for sure,” said Ogden.
According to the July 2016 census, the middle Georgia region as a whole has lost 782 people since 2010.