Originally created 03/02/05

A community's CAT scan



Lots of folks have taken snapshots of Augusta before.

This is different. This is a panoramic portrait unlike anything we've seen in years, if ever.

The CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon Thursday will be releasing a beefy package of seven studies of Augusta-area life - covering cost of living, employment, education, recreation, medical care, emergency services and housing.

The purpose of the studies is to give officials at the Pentagon and in Congress the most comprehensive picture of Augusta they can get while deliberating the fate of the country's military bases under the current round of base closings.

But the studies - performed by the CSRA Regional Development Center and paid for partly by donations to the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon and partly by the state - will be mandatory reading for anyone who works, lives or plays in Augusta or who simply cares about the area.

This is huge.

Real estate agents will want it. The Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce will eat it up. School boards, county commissions and other governmental bodies will want to pore over it. The area's extensive medical community will put it under a microscope. Area not-for-profits will more clearly see the area's strengths and weaknesses.

They'll find a lot more strengths than weaknesses, too.

The studies compared Augusta to four other similarly sized communities with comparable military installations across the country. "We found Augusta competes exceptionally well," says Thom Tuckey, executive director of the CSRA Alliance, and director of military affairs for the Chamber of Commerce.

He's putting it mildly. His studies will show that Augusta came out ahead of nearly every community in nearly every category.

"We got what we'd hoped for," Tuckey acknowledges.

What the alliance hoped for was a package of facts and figures providing tangible evidence of the Augusta area's quality of life - "auditable" evidence, Tuckey says.

This isn't an academic exercise, either. The military can make use of the information in deciding how many new missions Fort Gordon can handle - and in convincing top national security staff that "there is life after Washington, D.C.," Tuckey says.

But every sector of our community can do the same. The area's hospitals and the Medical College of Georgia, for instance, can use the information in recruiting the nation's top medical professionals.

Not too many communities have such a thorough CAT scan of themselves.

Or one that reads so well.