Business Focus – An economic partnership

An Economic Development Partnership team from the Georgia Department of Education visited Bulloch County Schools recently as part of an effort by the district to obtain official designation into the Economic Development Partnership Program.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Patrick Ledford, an economic development liaison with the Department of Education’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education division. “We all enjoyed learning more about Bulloch County and experiencing the strong stakeholder relationships in the district.”

The eight-hour site visit was part of a year-long process for Bulloch County Schools to seek a district-wide designation from the state’s Economic Development Partnership program. The designation is endorsed by the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

The team from the state came to learn more about the school district’s Career Technical & Agricultural Education program and its collaboration with local post-secondary institutions, businesses, industries, economic developers, and workforce development partners.

The team toured career pathway classes and labs at Portal Middle High School, Southeast Bulloch High School and Statesboro High School to visit with teachers and students.

They also met and spoke one-on-one with multiple school district partners and heard presentations about the district’s Workforce Development Plan.

The school district was admitted into the Economic Development Partnership program in 2021 after an application process that also required input and support from local partners like the Development Authority of Bulloch County and Great Dane.

“We believe we have a strong chance of obtaining the Economic Development Partnership designation for Bulloch County,” said Bethany Gilliam, the school district’s Career, Technical and Agricultural Education division director. “This would in turn benefit our whole community as we compete for new business and industry. This would not be possible without the continued support of our local partners in these efforts.”

The Economic Development Partnership Designation program is designed help elevate the capability of school systems, like Bulloch, to play a key role in business recruitment and expansion and talent development for their communities. 

“(The) visit was another positive example of the strong partnerships and ongoing collaboration with our local partners to best prepare our students for successful careers and to build an educated, skilled and efficient workforce for economic growth in Bulloch County,” said Dr. Julie Chance, executive director of Program Improvement for Bulloch County Schools.

Bulloch County’s Career Technical and Agricultural Education program helps prepare students for their next steps after high school, whether that be college enrollment, enlistment in the military or employment in an in-demand, high-wage career. 

The school district’s state-approved career pathway courses leverage partnerships with industry and higher education to ensure students acquire skills needed for immediate and future employment. 

Bulloch County Schools’ program offers students courses in 13 different career clusters and 23 high school career pathways and three middle school career pathways. Work Based Learning opportunities are also offered for students at all three of the school district’s high schools.

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