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Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership

PROPEL in Baxley

How the program works

How the program works


We launched PROPEL (Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership) in 2022. PROPEL provides rural communities with resources to create systems necessary to support their own economic and workforce development strategies. The two-year program is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant; it also received a $250,000 gift from the UGA Foundation in the spring of 2022.

The program will guide low-income rural cities and counties through a six-step model to develop and execute a plan to advance their economies. This model will focus on economic development, data analysis, strategic planning, community engagement and vision setting.



  • Data Analysis

    • Review economic and labor market data to inform strategy development

  • Citizen Input

    • Collaborate and engage with business leaders and key community stakeholders

  • Asset-Based Strategy Development

    • Identify community resources and develop a vision for the community’s economic future

  • Planning Implementation and Support

    • Advance the strategic planning process using acquired skills

  • Links to UGA Researchers

    • Connect communities with UGA academic faculty for research and partnership opportunities

  • Impact Evaluation

    • Assess the effectiveness of the community’s economic development strategic planning process

PROPEL collaboration



PROPEL includes collaboration between UGA Public Service and Outreach units

  • Institute of Government

  • Archway Partnership

  • J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership

  • Small Business Development Center

PROPEL Communities

 PROPEL Communities




  • 2022 Communities

    • Grady County

    • Appling County

    • Pulaski County

    • Washington County

    • Lower Chattahoochee Council of Governments (Clay, Quitman, Randolph, and Stewart Counties)

  • 2023 Communities

    • Baldwin County

    • Ben Hill County

    • Burke County

Additional communities may be added in the future.

PROPEL Rural Scholars

PROPEL Rural Scholars


The PROPEL Rural Scholars program provides students interested in rural Georgia the opportunity to work alongside a Public Service and Outreach mentor and community leaders to work on and implement relevant research to communities. The two semester program will equip future leaders with the knowledge and experience to take roles in economic development, community development, and civic leadership.

Learn more about the PROPEL Rural Scholars program.

PROPEL In the News

PROPEL In the News


Support from UGA Foundation benefits students and communities

May 25, 2022

A generous $500,000 gift from the University of Georgia Foundation board of trustees to support rural economic development will enable UGA to reach even more communities and provide experiential learning opportunities to more students.

Read more.

PROPEL gives rural communities the tools to prosper and thrive

May 5, 2022

Over the next two years, PROPEL participants will work through a six-step model focusing on economic development, data analysis, strategic planning, community engagement and vision setting. Coaches from the UGA Institute of Government and Archway Partnership will work closely to keep the communities on track. Faculty from other UGA Public Service and Outreach units, the J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership and the Small Business Development Center, are available to provide expertise in small business, leadership development and community engagement.

Read more.


USDA grant will help communities boost economic development with PROPEL

November 3, 2021

A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow UGA Public Service and Outreach units to equip rural Georgia communities with the tools, resources and knowledge to chart a strategy for economic recovery and long-term resiliency.

Read more.