Press Releases

EC2055 Announces Non-Profit Status

Blakely, GA — Charles and Catherine B. Rice announced today that they have created Early County 2055, Inc., a non-profit corporation that will support the revitalization, economic development and preservation of Blakely and Early County, Ga. The mission of the new entity will be to sustain the EC 2055 fifty-year vision, fund the long-term effort to protect the area's historic and cultural foundation and build and maintain a prosperous economic future.

The 'Early County 2055' program kicked off in the spring with an intense week-long planning event that involved the entire community. The Atlanta-based Charles and Catherine B. Rice Foundation initiated and funded the initial planning process with a grant, which set the stage for creating a healthy business climate for the local community — enhancing the quality of life for local residents, and supporting growth for the city of Blakely and Early County for future generations. The event was orchestrated by an internationally known Miami-based land planning and development advisory firm, Placemakers. The purpose of Early County 2055, Inc. is to help continue the momentum that the initial grant began.

"The Rice Foundation is committed to funding the development of an economic revitalization plan and establishing a process to enable community residents to help themselves," said Charles B. Rice, the founder and director of the Foundation. "We have been the catalyst in the process and have made a lot of progress. We now have an execution strategy, a project manager, and a non-profit corporation in place to follow through on the implementation stage. The success of this program must involve the local community leadership and working committees who will make the plan a reality by recruiting investment to the area, procuring state and federal grants and enlisting the help of the state university systems".

Rice grew up in Blakely, GA., where his parents settled in the 1930's. He founded Barton Protective Services Inc., an international security firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA, in 1977. After building the company to be one of the largest contract security firms in the country, Allied Security acquired it in 2004. Rice and his wife, Catherine, are committed to the community that provided them with so much opportunity and helped mold their lives.  

The implementation strategy will involve the local community leadership and working committees who will carry out the necessary steps to ensure success. Early County 2055, Inc. will be governed by a Board of Directors consisting of Charles B. Rice, Sr.; Catherine B. Rice; Barton Rice, Jr.; Dr. Patricia Cleveland, Ed.d, former school superintendent, Blakely, GA; and Stanley Houston, State Farm Insurance Agent, Blakely, GA.

A newly appointed Steering Committee consisting of local residents of Early County will assist the Board of Directors and project manager in carrying out the necessary steps to ensure its success. Included in the group's top priorities will be raising funds from individual, governmental, charitable and corporate donors and the allocation of those funds to revitalize and preserve Blakely and Early County, Ga. In addition the committee will guide the master plan and determine implementation strategies and timelines for its completion.  

Members of the Steering Committee are Stanley Houston, State Farm Insurance Agent, Blakely, GA; Claude Bell, Associate Professor, Blakely GA Campus, Bainbridge College; Steve Singletary, agribusiness and bank director, Blakely, GA;  Lee Conner, president, Conner Agency, Inc. and chairman, Arlington, GA Downtown Development Authority; Richard Ward III, city president, First State Bank of Arlington, GA and chairman of Early County Board of Commissioners; Edwin James, finance officer of Primary Care of Southwest Georgia, Blakely, GA ; Betty Sutton, retired administrative assistant, Ponder Enterprises, Donalsonville, GA and community volunteer, Jakin, GA.; and Dr. Betty Orange, superintendent, Early County School System, Blakely, GA.

Barton Rice, president of Early County 2055, Inc,, noted that the initial grant was intended to fund the initial plan development and establish the process for transition from an agriculturally based economy to a thriving service and knowledge economy that will provide new industry opportunities. "Then it will be up to the local leadership to make the plan a reality," he said.

"The process has been successful, to date," Barton Rice said. "With the creation of Early County 2055, Inc., and the appointment of a great team of local Early County residents, the revitalization effort is firmly in place. The success of the program depends on where the community chooses to go with this opportunity. We want to see the area realize its vision by committing to working on the renewal of the community and participating in its success."

The Charles and Catherine B. Rice Foundation, based in Atlanta, Ga., is dedicated to revitalizing communities, preserving historical landmarks, safeguarding natural resources, promoting cultural and spiritual heritage and serving as a catalyst for collaboration with others for positive and sustainable change in our community. For further information, click here.