Planning, Community & Economic Development

Comprehensive Planning

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission assists member local governments with implementing the Georgia Planning Act of 1989. Local comprehensive plans address community needs and objectives for economic development, community facilities, natural and historic resources, housing, and land use. Plans must be updated every ten years.

The NWGRC encourages counties and municipalities to work together to identify common problems and opportunities and to seek countywide solutions through joint plans. Local plans were used to develop a joint regional plan that identifies opportunities for counties and municipalities to work together on a multi-county basis. The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission have prepared a regional plan for the 15-county State Service Delivery Region 1. The NWGRC also assists local governments with preparing solid waste management plans as required by the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act. These services are implemented in partnership with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Further information on planning in Georgia can be found on-line at Georgia Planning.

Local Plan 10-Year Update Schedule

  • Bartow County February 28, 2018
  • Catoosa County February 28, 2021
  • Chattooga County February 28, 2021
  • Dade County June 30, 2017
  • Fannin County October 31, 2017
  • Floyd County October 31, 2018
  • Gilmer County October 31, 2014
  • Gordon County June 30, 2018
  • Haralson County February 28, 2017
  • Murray County October 31, 2018
  • Paulding County June 30, 2017
  • Pickens County June 30, 2018
  • Polk County February 28, 2017
  • Walker County February 28, 2022
  • Whitfield County October 31, 2018

Growth Management

Local governments and planning commissions receive assistance with zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, and other tools to promote orderly land development. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has prepared a model code, Alternatives to Conventional Zoning, which provides legal options to conventional zoning for smaller local governments. It can be accessed at Georgia Planning. Quality growth tool-kits used to assist communities with “smart growth” are also on-line at Georgia Quality Growth. The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission has assisted the Regional Advisory Council for State Service Delivery Region 1 with preparing the Northwest Georgia Growth Management Initiative consisting of a regional growth management strategy including recommended growth management tools.

Historic Preservation

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission contracts with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to carry out a regional historic preservation program. The NWGRC provides a broad range of historic preservation technical assistance to local governments, organizations, individuals, and the State. Additionally, the NWGRC facilitates a Regional Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation.


The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission contracts with the Georgia Department of Transportation for several activities. First, the NWGRC assists the Dot with mapping public road centerlines and bridges using our global positioning system (GPS). Secondly, the NWGRC carries out a planning work program consisting of pedestrian/bikeway activities, rural transit planning and other activities. There is an active pedestrian/bikeway advisory committee, Bike-Walk Northwest Georgia, that is promoting and implementing a number of projects throughout the region, The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission also participates in the transportation planning activities of the Chattanooga/North Georgia Transportation Planning Organization, the Floyd County-Rome Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Whitfield County-Dalton Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Atlanta Regional Commission Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Water Resources

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission provide staff support to the Northwest Georgia Regional Water Resources Partnership. The Partnership is an organization of water withdrawal permit holders, local governments, and other advocacy entities with an interest in water issues in the 15-county area. Under a contract with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission and the North Georgia NWGRC completed a Source Water Assessment and Protection Plan that identifies and assesses potential pollution sources near public drinking water intakes. A second contract with the state resulted in the preparation of Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Plans for selected water bodies throughout the region.

Economic Development

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission is designated a Local Development District by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a joint federal-state partnership. Appalachian Regional Commission funding is available to local communities for projects that support the creation and/or retention of private sector jobs. Since 1966, the Appalachian Regional Commission has invested over $40 million in public infrastructure and human resource projects in the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission region.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission is also an Economic Development District as designated by the U. S. Economic Development Administration. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds public works and planning projects for local governments to support creating and/or retaining private sector jobs. Since 1976, EDA has invested ove $25 million in the Northwest Georgia region. A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is prepared by the NWGRC for the region. The Regional Advisory Council for State Service Delivery Region 1 serves with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission Board of Directors as the CEDS Committee reviewing and approving the regional strategy.

Neighborhood Stabilization Program

NWGRC administers the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) for the purpose of redeveloping vacant and foreclosed properties and providing homebuyer counseling. With funding through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), NWGRC administers these NSP programs:

  • NSP1 (Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk and Walker) – $6.9 million
  • NSP1 Asset Manager (Whitfield, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens and Murray ) – $1.2 million
  • NSP3 (Bartow, Flloyd, Gordon, Walker and Whitfield) – $3.5 million
  • NSP3 Asset Manager (Paulding) – $1.3 million

Loan Programs

NWGRC is the administrative/staff entity for the North Georgia Certified Development Company, Inc. (NGCDC), a private nonprofit corporation certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide financial and technical assistance for business start-ups and expansions. Also, NWGRC’s EDA Revolving Loan Fund originated in 1981 with a $550,000 investment. Together, both programs have

  • committed financing for 149 businesses
  • created/retained 2,369 jobs
  • invested a total of $78 million in NW Georgia

State Data and Research Center Affiliate

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission maintains population data for use by local governments, chambers of commerce, industrial development authorities, and citizens in their planning and development activities. The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission was instrumental in assisting member counties and cities with preparing for and executing 2000 United States Census. Population data can be accessed at the US Census Bureau and GA Data.

Geographic Information System

The geographic information system (GIS) provides counties and municipalities with maps and data in a digital format. This tool results in improved decision-making in the areas of land use planning, transportation planning, environmental studies, zoning enforcement, demographic analysis, and economic development. Digital mapping resources can be accessed on-line from the Georgia GIS Data Clearinghouse

Federal and State Grant-In-Aid

County and city governments are assisted by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission in preparing federal and state grant-in-aid applications for such projects as economic development, water and sewer improvements, health centers, senior citizen centers, recreational improvements, historic preservation, and solid waste management. A Catalog of State Financial Assistance Programs is available on-line at the Department of Community Affairs. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance provides information on Federal programs available to state and local governments, other public and private entities, and individuals.