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Vidalia's Varn a "Young Gamechanger"
Wednesday, 15 January 2014

January 14--  The old saying, "Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees," is the gist of a program called "Young Gamechangers" in Georgia.

The group of under-40 professionals has kicked off a six-month program to help the City of Dublin and Laurens County "re-vision" their community.  

ImageMembers of the group are from all over Georgia and includes Ingrid Varn, Executive Director of the Vidalia Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"You've got this group of 35 people from all over the state and from different professions and for free they come in and tell you how you can make your city better," she says.

Last year the initial class of Young Gamechangers focused on Americus and Sumter County.

Kris Hattaway with the Newtown Macon program was part of that class and says she loved it.

"I got to go to Americus and Sumter County which is a different lifestyle and economy from what I'm used to and that gave me a new perspective.  I also had the chance to meet and work with other young leaders from around the state.

"They've already implemented some of the recommendations we made so its about giving back to the community and it's also been a personal help because of the relationships we made while working together, Hattaway said.

This year Hattaway is helping guide the Young Gamechangers efforts in Dublin under the auspices of an organzation called Georgia Forward.

"The whole purpose of Georgia Forward is to be an independent, non-partisan organization that brings the state together as a whole," she noted.

Meanwhile, Ingrid Varn hopes Vidalia can host the program in the future or at least learn from what she observes in Dublin.

"I knew that me being in the program would help me get my foot in the door to possibly bring it to Vidalia and also just to learn," she said.

The group held its orientation session earlier this month in Dublin and plans to come up with recommendations in the next few months to present to leaders in Dublin and Laurens County this summer.

 
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