When 19-year-old Carrie Shoultz moved to the Augusta area from Minnesota, she was perplexed when she kept hearing people talk about "the CSRA."
"One of the TV stations referred to it over and over," said Ms. Shoultz, a customer service clerk at Wolf Camera on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway.
Finally, after some frustration, she said she started asking locals to define the often-used acronym.
"It stands for the Central Savannah River Area," said Pat Blanchard, the president and CEO of Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, the holding company for First Bank of Georgia.
Its origin is often as perplexing to longtime residents as its name is to newcomers.
Mr. Blanchard, for instance, suspected his grandfather John Pierce Blanchard might have coined the phrase years ago as a member of the newly formed CSRA Regional Planning and Development Commission.
But Tim Maund, 73, the first director of that agency, said he thought "CSRA" was the result of a newspaper contest.
Erik Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta, said both men make good points. Half a century ago, he said, Georgia began dividing itself into planning regions, and everything was geographically named.
Mr. Maund was right about the contest.
According to the June 25, 1950, issue of The Augusta Chronicle, C.C. McCollum, a longtime Jefferson County educator, won a $250 prize when his suggestion was chosen from 2,500 entries evaluated by a panel of community leaders.
Not only did The Chronicle and its sister paper the Augusta Herald support the contest, but four local radio stations: WGAC, WBBQ, WRDW and WJBF, were involved also.
In the beginning, "CSRA" was quite popular, and many businesses used it as part of their name to promote their communitywide reach.
"It's an acronym we Augustans used a lot," Mr. Blanchard said.
Many still do.
"In my travels, I get questioned all the time," said Charm McCall, the CEO of the CSRA Federal Credit Union. " I tell them it's part of our Metropolitan Statistical Area and includes counties on both sides of the river."
Bruce Parker, the owner of CSRA Advertising on Reynolds Street, said his marketing supplies company began with a local focus.
"At the time, I named the company to reflect my business in this region," he said. His ink pens, coffee cups and other promotional items are now sold throughout the Southeast, he said.
Mr. Maund said it still makes sense to use CSRA because it fully describes the local area.
"We're in the central portion of the Savannah River, it's allied to our community, and it's a more accurate description. To say East Georgia, you'd eliminate too much. Aiken is in western South Carolina. So, the CSRA offers a description accepted by people in Georgia and in South Carolina," he said.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to CSRA Regional Development Center data:
- The "CSRA" is a 13-county East Georgia region with an economic center being the consolidated government of Augusta-Richmond County.
- These 13 counties are Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Wilkes, Lincoln, Washington, Hancock, Taliaferro, Warren, Glascock, McDuffie, Jenkins and Jefferson.
- Five South Carolina counties are considered part of the CSRA. They are Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick, Allendale and Barnwell counties.
Sources: Historic Augusta and Erik Montgomery