Building Strong Communities Through Partnerships

August 10, 2021

By Larry Hanson, GMA Executive Director

Community building is hard work and takes everyone coming together in a spirit of cooperation and coordination. Partnerships allow us to take the strengths, ideas and resources of many and mold them into a plan of action that brings about positive change.

When we think of partnerships, we must think not just of those in our immediate surroundings, but all those around us that can be force multipliers to help us achieve our goals. As your city looks at ways to form and benefit from partnerships, the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) Act is a great place to start.

Our partners include those we serve, and listening to their voices is critical to achieving the greatest impact and success. We also have state partners like the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Gov. Brian Kemp’s office and the funding his administration is setting aside from the state’s ARPA funds for local projects. The Governor’s Office for Planning and Budget will be accepting local project requests in several categories, including broadband and water and sewer, beginning Aug. 1-3. This information is available on the OPB website. DCA is administering rental assistance and mortgage assistance programs that should be shared with residents to include home and business owners, renters and landlords. DCA has a large sum of funding, and it is certainly wise to steer citizens to the state funding in these areas and then use local ARPA funding for other needs.

GMA benefits from the partnership with our members. We exist to serve the needs of our members and offer many programs and services for that purpose. With your input and guidance, we continue to work to be sure we meet your needs. One such example is our new headquarters facility, parking deck and renovated Burgess Building. Through your support and partnership, we now have facilities to serve you in ways we could only hope for in the past. Please come and visit your new facilities and let us know how your city can utilize them in the future. Our shared future is bright indeed!

Our Annual Convention is another partnership where we listen to input of our members to build training and sessions to prepare you to be better and more informed leaders. We can’t wait to be together in Savannah Aug. 6-10, and we have a great convention planned for you.

Partnership also means working with our state agencies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as we want to be on the other side of COVID, it is not ready to leave us. As I write this, the Delta variant is becoming a real issue in the U.S. and is growing in Georgia at a very concerning rate. This variant is becoming a major issue among the unvaccinated and, according to health officials, approximately 97% of the cases and 99% of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals. GMA has developed tool kits and resources to be a partner with you to educate and inform your residents of the importance of vaccination. “It’s Worth a Shot” to return to a normal life and ensure our cities can return to a healthy and prosperous future. We cannot allow this or future variants to derail the great progress that has been made. COVID is an equal opportunity health risk that can be prevented with over 90% efficacy by a safe and effective vaccine. When we gather in Savannah soon, let’s be a community of immunity.

As we build for the future, let’s do so through partnerships with counties, state and federal agencies, non-profits and all others who share a common interest in improving the quality of life of those we serve. Let’s continue to be Cities United and always know GMA is grateful for your membership.

This article was originally featured in the July/August 2021 edition of Georgia’s Cities Magazine.

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