Helping Southwest Georgia connect AI dots

Downtown Camilla, Georgia

Last updated on February 14th, 2024 at 08:01 pm

Plan charts path for developing, sustaining innovations in manufacturing


A new initiative in southwest Georgia aims to increase the region’s capacity for high-tech advances in the coming years.

Spearheaded by Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing—a consortium of projects across Georgia that are educating, training and implementing AI in manufacturing—the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission is working with the Center for Economic Development Research at Georgia Institute of Technology to help the area increase its capacity for the new technology.

Ultimately, said Leigh Hopkins, assistant director of the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), the goal is to create a “menu” of options customized for the region that’s informed by a survey conducted earlier this year.

In short, the three main ways Southwest Georgia can ensure artificial intelligence in manufacturing can thrive are training and workforce readiness, K-12 education and infrastructure.

“This survey was sent to business owners, educators, economic and local government officials across the state, but these are what the respondents from southwest Georgia told us,” said Hopkins. “Now, we want to create more specific options based on these areas and bring them back to the community for feedback.”

It’s part of a three-step process CEDR is conducting across the state as it helps regional commissions identify, create and implement economic ecosystems that foster artificial intelligence in manufacturing. Incorporating emerging technology in manufacturing helps provide safer, higher-paying jobs and creates a more stable local economy, according to data from Georgia AIM.

Hopkins is now working with Beka Shiver, an economic development and transportation planner with the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission to host a series of meetings for community leaders and organizations. Using their input, the team will further refine their plan to identify pilot programs that could be implemented in the area.

The final step, added Hopkins, is measuring success—ultimately, regions that can implement projects to advance AI in manufacturing serve as “communities of practice.” “These communities become our models for implementing and maintaining these programs, and can teach other cities around Georgia in the process,” she said.

Shiver said she is excited about the next steps and the implications it could have on the community.

“I’m looking forward to hearing what those in our community have to say about education and training programs, and where we can fill some gaps in our technology infrastructure,” said Shiver. “This is a tremendous opportunity to continue to build off Southwest Georgia’s manufacturing, logistics and food production base, benefitting our entire community.”