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UGA digital marketing boot camp helps rural businesses compete in global economy

 

A digital marketing workshop to help South Georgia entrepreneurs and small business owners expand their client base is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Douglas, Georgia.

The UGA Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC’s) Digital Marketing Boot Camp is an interactive workshop where small business owners learn how to build their digital brands, expand their market and acquire new customers through social channels.

“The great thing for small firms with the advent of social media is their footprint can be much larger than just their local marketplace,” said Allan Adams, SBDC director. “Customers don’t have to be right there in town, or even in driving distance. The region, the state, the country and beyond can become their customer base.”

At the digital marketing training, participants learn the basics of SEO.

Participants learn how to leverage social media channels into sales, use search engine optimization (SEO) to gain a larger audience on the web and learn what tools are available to help them grow engagement on Facebook and Instagram.

Most importantly, business owners will understand how to create and implement a digital strategy, a must-have for small businesses to succeed in today’s digital world.

“(Digital) is part of marketing today,” said Debbie Finney, director of the UGA SBDC office in Albany. “You can’t ignore it. You have to have a digital strategy.”

For Bruce Roberts, the owner of ShotKing, a company based in Adel, Ga. that manufactures machines needed in heavy industry, he knew there was no way he could just sell his product locally.

Bruce Roberts, owner of machine manufacture Shot King in Adel, Ga. The SBDC helped him take his small town business to 22 countries around the world.

“It’s absolutely necessary for us to cover the planet,” said Roberts “I literally had no clue about selling internationally.”

With the SBDC’s help, Roberts was able to revitalize ShotKing, which builds machines pioneered after World War II to clean metal parts. The machines use shot blasting, a technique similar to sand blasting, where small steel pellets are fired at high speeds to clean metal surfaces. Today, nearly half of ShotKing’s sales come from exports to 22 countries.

“Having these folks at the SBDC to call on is great,” Roberts said. “We would’ve just muddled through without them. We’d be a lot smaller operation.”

This social media marketing program is sponsored by the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce.

“For most chambers, especially in rural communities, the majority of their membership is small businesses,” Adams said. “We both had an interest in helping small businesses thrive. It’s a natural connection.”


In the last five years, SBDC-assisted clients have:

  • Opened 1,700 new businesses.
  • Created 12,000 jobs.
  • Generated over 9 billion in sales.

For more information or to register for the Digital Marketing Boot Camp in Douglas:

georgiasbdc.org/digital-marketing-bootcamp/

 

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Lefty returns to the wild; UGA Aquarium gets new sea turtle ambassador

After spending his first three years at the UGA Aquarium, Lefty the loggerhead sea turtle was released earlier this month into the Wassaw Sound from the shore of the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge on Skidaway Island, near Savanah.

Lefty hatched on Ossabaw Island in September 2015. The turtle was discovered as a straggler in the nest and given by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to serve as an ambassador sea turtle until he was big and strong enough to return to the wild.

“When we first got him we immediately noticed that it was having trouble using its left front flipper,” says Devin Dumont, head curator at the UGA Aquarium on Sidaway Island. That, and the fact that the hatchling was left behind in the nest, inspired his name.

For three years, the charismatic sea turtle helped educate thousands of visitors to the UGA Aquarium about the importance of the Georgia coast to nesting sea turtles.

“Looking at a photo of a sea turtle or listening to someone talk about them doesn’t have the same impact as watching a live animal swim in the tank,” said Lisa Olenderski, aquarium curator and educator at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “People are always amazed by how graceful they are in the water or how agile they are when going after blue crabs. Seeing them in person helps establish that connection and leaves a lasting impression.”

Lefty also helped advance scientific research by serving as a study subject in a project that focused on improving environmental enrichment for animals in captivity.

“We gained a little bit of insight into sea turtle color preference and food preference through the study,” Dumont said. “We learned information that could help us enhance their stay while they’re here.”

Undergraduate students at Savannah State University assisted with the study, conducting experiments designed to test whether sea turtles showed color preference among blue, green orange and yellow objects.

While preparing him for release, the aquarium staff fed him live food, such as blue crabs and mussels, so he could practice active foraging and hunting. With DNR’s approval, the director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island attached number coded tags and a passive integrated transmitter to Lefty before the release. Both can be used to identify Lefty in the future.

On Wassaw, Dumont and Olenderski carried Lefty to the surf and gave him some gentle nudges before he swam into the water and disappeared.

Back at the aquarium, Neptune, a new straggler hatchling discovered by DNR in August, will make its public debut on Sept. 22 at Estuary Extravaganza, an event celebrating National Estuaries Week at the UGA Aquarium.

Neptune

Five species of sea turtles nest along the Georgia coast. While loggerheads are the most common, they are listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia DNR. After almost 40 years of conservation efforts at the federal and state level, DNR reports nesting numbers on the Georgia coast have been increasing dramatically over the last several years.


Writer: Emily Woodward, ewoodward@uga.edu, 912-598-2348 ext. 107

State Botanical Garden of Georgia celebrates longtime donors at Giving Tree Tribute

Six longtime supporters of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia were honored recently during the biennial “Giving Tree” celebration that recognizes patrons who have given their time and money to the garden.

“We are fortunate to have a strong group of supporters who are so generous with their time and financial resources,” said Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “They recognize the importance of the garden and its contribution to education, conservation and research for the university and across the state.”

James B. Miller Jr., a charter member of the State Botanical Garden board of advisors, was the 2018 Distinguished Honoree, the garden’s highest honor bestowed on donors. Miller, who helped establish the board, has shown generosity to the garden personally and through Fidelity Southern Corporation, where he serves as chairman and CEO. Miller lives in Atlanta.

In addition to supporting the International Garden, Heritage Garden, Flower Garden and Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden and the annual balls, Miller was one of the first to contribute to the accessibility initiative at the garden. He co-chaired the 1989 Gardens of the World Ball with former UGA Vice President for Services S. Eugene Younts, who recently passed away.

Three board members received the 2018 Southern Magnolia Award, which honors philanthropic contributions of more than $100,000 and continued service to the garden. The 2018 honorees are Martha Brumley Ellis, Brenda Magill and Sissie Morris.

Ellis has been on the garden’s board of advisors for 17 years, supporting the Gardens of the World Ball each of those years in addition to the Flower Garden and children’s garden campaigns. Ellis lives in in Sea Island, Georgia, and Highlands, North Carolina.

Magill has served on the board for 21 years, championing Orchid Madness, the Gardens of the World Balls, the children’s garden campaign, the Heritage Garden campaign as well as the horticulture and conservation funds. She co-chaired the 2011 ball with Betsy Ellison. Magill lives in Athens, Georgia.

Morris has been active on the board for 29 years. Her support includes the International Garden, Heritage Garden, Flower Garden and children’s garden campaigns, as well as the conservation funds and Gardens of the World Balls. Along with Charlotte Merry, Morris co-chaired the 1990 Gardens of the World Ball. Morris lives in Augusta, Georgia.

Kathy and Neely Young received the Garden of Georgia medal, the highest award for service and support. Kathy Young previously served as chair of the board and spearheaded the development committee of the garden’s most recent campaign, the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. In addition, Kathy Young co-chaired the 2009 Gardens of the World Ball with Betty Sponcler, celebrating the ball’s 25th anniversary with a book chronicling its history. Kathy Young and her husband Neely Young have also demonstrated support of the garden through the voice of Georgia Trend, a statewide business publication they owned and managed until 2017. The Youngs live in Marietta, Georgia, and Cashiers, North Carolina.

The Giving Tree event recognizes individuals committed to outstanding philanthropic contributions and dedicated service supporting the mission of the State Botanical Garden. This year, the Giving Tree Tribute is part of the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of the State Botanical Garden. The 50th anniversary celebration also includes a signature plant, the native Southern flame azalea, known for its pleasant fragrance and fiery colors.

Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-612-0063

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Contact: Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, crusesanders@uga.edu, 706-542-6131

 

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of the University of Georgia’s Office of Public Service and Outreach, has served the citizens of Georgia for 50 years. The garden attracts more than 230,000 visitors annually. With walking trails, garden displays and educational initiatives, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is dedicated to inspiring, educating and conserving.

UGA’s interpreter programs help improve non-English speaking residents access to healthcare

 

For some Georgia residents, the key to quality healthcare isn’t dependent upon the doctor or facility.

It’s dependent upon the interpreter.

“What’s happening here is often a life and death situation,” said Michele Pirkle, executive director of patient family experience at Grady Health System.  “We must ensure that the interpreter can not only have a conversation with someone in another language, but they convey very technical medical terminology with no room for error.”

About 50,000 native Koreans live in Gwinnett County. In response to this growing population, the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, began offering the Korean/English Medical Interpreter Certificate (KEMI) in 2012. This 40-hour course meets five Saturdays at the UGA Gwinnett Campus.

Participation in the program allows students to work as an interpreter for a year before taking the National Council on Interpretation in Health Care exam. The KEMI was modeled after the highly successful Spanish/English Medical Interpreter Certificate, which has been offered by the Georgia Center for more than a decade.

Medical interpretation is often an overlooked part of healthcare, said Grace Cruz, a Korean-English freelance medical interpreter.

“Often, I interpret between children and parents,” Cruz said. “Parents don’t know English, children don’t know Korean. They can get by in day-to-day conversations, but the actual diagnosis cannot be interpreted by children. When people use a family member, assumptions are made, mistakes are made.”

“The most important thing I teach my students is ethics and culture,” said Cruz. “In sensitive fields like mental health, untrained interpreters don’t know how to convey the questions in a way someone from Korea would understand.”

During the course, Cruz (left) uses role-playing to act out scenarios like a medical examination.

KEMI is unique because it offers one-on-one instruction instead of an online course, like other programs. Students roleplay different scenarios, participate in interactive activities and discuss challenges with Cruz, who’s been practicing as a medical interpreter for 12 years.

While healthcare systems like Grady may rely on video or phone sessions when in-person interpreters aren’t available, the effectiveness of face-to-face interpreters can’t be stressed enough for languages like Korean (languages that rely on visual cues, such as American Sign Language, benefit from having a video option).

“In-person is much different than video, especially if it’s a situation in trauma,” said David Lee, a Spanish and Korean interpreter for Grady Health System. “You need to be really quick and express very clearly what is going on.”

“There are language apps, but we cannot depend on that,” Cruz said. “I’ve seen worst-case scenarios come out of that.”

Cruz and Lee believe the need for this training will increase with the influx of Korean residents.

“The demand is here,” Cruz said. “More and more people are coming over here from Korea, and when they go to the hospital, they will need an interpreter.”

The UGA Gwinnett Campus (By Rick O’Quinn)

So far 450 people have enrolled in the Korean interpreter program, more than half from Gwinnett County. Others have been from counties near Gwinnett, including Athens-Clarke County.

“Medical interpretation is a facet of healthcare that needs more attention,” Pirkle said. “What interpreters do is a vital piece of the healthcare industry.”

The next Korean-English Medical Certificate program will be offered Sept. 29 – Oct. 27, 2018, at the UGA Gwinnett Campus.

 

Learn more about the KEMI

Find out about other interpreter programs:

www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/courses/languages/interpreting-skills

 


Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-612-0063

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

UGA helping women in southeast Georgia grow as leaders

As a counselor in the Upper School at Bulloch Academy in Statesboro, Kinsley Baker has a great job and a good quality of life.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, when Baker began the 2017-2018 Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation Women’s Leadership Academy she also had a “great job,” she said. “But it was a challenge to manage work-life balance.”

The leadership program, developed by UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation in Statesboro, helped Baker realize she needed a change.

“Each session really hit home for me and was so relevant to where I was in my life and in my career,” Baker said. “I learned so much about myself, how I work with others and how I manage conflict. What I learned had a lot to do with me taking that step forward.”

Lynda Williamson, a civic leader in the Statesboro community, established the foundation before her death in November 2014 to help guide and mentor young women in southeast Georgia. The leadership academy focuses on servant leadership, mentoring and developing a personal leadership style.

“Women in leadership roles face unique challenges and situations,” said Lisa Lee, president of the Lynda B. Williamson Foundation. “We wanted to create a program that would address those specific issues and provide a safe space for women to discuss leadership, learn from each other and grow together.”

Lisa Lee, president of Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation

Fanning Institute faculty, led by Maritza Soto Keen and Carolina Darbisi, cover topics like personal leadership, communication and conflict, strategies for effective leadership, career and professional skill development and multigenerational leadership. The class also meets with local and state leaders.

“We created a curriculum to examine leadership through a woman’s lens,” Keen said. “By raising these unique issues and allowing women to talk about them and share with each other, they develop their personal leadership abilities and build a network of women leaders that can work together to strengthen their communities.”

Program participants also work together on a community service project, which also helps them bond.

“The support I felt from my classmates gave me the courage to grow, to take a leap of faith,” Baker said.

So far, 48 women have graduated from the program, held each year since 2015-16. The first two groups organized activities in the Statesboro area, including a career day for women that offered interview training, resume development and professional makeovers.

The 2017-18 class plans to create a mentoring program for high school girls, which will cover social media etiquette, resume building and conflict management.

“We want to take what we have learned and pass it on to the next generation,” Baker said.

An alumnae group formed by program graduates will also provide support for the program and its community service efforts moving forward.

“We want to continue supporting and connecting with each other and giving back to the community in the spirit and legacy of Lynda B. Williamson,” said Erica Sellers, a graduate of the 2016-17 program.

“Seeing women complete the program and stay involved as alumnae shows us that the foundation’s work and mission to mentor and guide young women in southeast Georgia will continue into the next generation,” Lee said. “While Lynda left us a vision and we knew we wanted a women’s leadership academy, the Fanning Institute took the heart of what we wanted to do and made it beat.”

The program is a strong community partnership, said Matt Bishop, director of the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

“At the Fanning Institute, we believe that communities become stronger when they empower as many people as possible with the tools and knowledge to lead and contribute,” Bishop said. “We are proud to partner with the Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation on the Women’s Leadership Academy, and we look forward to seeing the impact that these women will have on future generations in southeast Georgia.”

The fourth class of the Lynda Brannen Williamson Women’s Leadership Academy begins this month.

Writer: Charlie Bauder, charlie.bauder@fanning.uga.edu, 706-542-7039

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Entrepreneurs earn big rewards in a small quilt shop in Marietta

An award-winning quilter, Maetha Elliott shopped for many years at Tiny Stitches, a quilting shop in Marietta.

“The owner kept talking to me about teaching quilting classes and later suggested I could own the shop,” Maetha Elliott said.

When the owner decided to sell the shop, Maetha and her husband Henry Elliott decided to buy it.

After teaching in the Cobb County School System for 20 years, Maetha Elliott was ready for something new. She and Henry Elliott had been looking for a retail business they could buy. They visited children’s book stores, as they both loved children and books. But the earning potential wasn’t high enough.

As they began the process to finance the purchase, they reached out to the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Maetha and Henry approached their goal to be entrepreneurs the right way, by getting educated before buying a business,” said Drew Tonsmeire, area director of the UGA SBDC office located at Kennesaw State University in Cobb County.

The Elliotts attended an SBDC program for business start-ups and SBDC financing workshops for new entrepreneurs.

“Drew reviewed all of our financials to make sure they looked good. He gave us an outline of what needed to be in our business plan, and he helped us with the narrative,” said Henry Elliott. “We did a PowerPoint presentation of the plan and took it to the United Community Bank to get the loan to purchase the business.”

The Elliotts spent six months in the purchasing process before they bought the business, Tonsmeire said.

“Then they needed to make changes to the shop’s processes and culture, which also presented challenges,” Tonsmeire said. “Henry and Maetha began quickly bringing all their management skills into play.”

Henry Elliott created an inventory spreadsheet to plan for fabric deliveries, which can take six months or longer to arrive after ordering. The Elliotts also updated customer records and changed to a point-of-sale system that collected more useful sales data.

By 2014, the 3,500-square-foot store in a retail shopping center needed to expand, so the Elliotts moved into a space next door, which had housed a consignment shop and martial arts studio. With twice as much space as they had in the original shop, the Elliotts now display fabrics, patterns and notions on the first floor, and use basement space to display work done by beginners as well as guild-level quilters who take classes and sew at the store.

“Tiny Stitches lives up to its motto: a gathering place for quilters,” Tonsmeire said. “The shop is like a second home for customers who can both buy and sew in the building. Maetha is totally focused on the customer experience. She wants them to enjoy their time there.”

The Elliotts now have 14 employees and have nearly doubled their annual sales revenue.

They attended the SBDC’s GrowSmart® program and are working on social media marketing with Tonsmeire and a digital media expert at the SBDC. They plan to launch an online store this year.

“If we have a problem, the first person we call is Drew,” Maetha Elliott said. “He’s local, he will return the call, and he will come to our shop. You don’t get that service anywhere else.”

 

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. Designated as one of Georgia’s top providers of small business assistance, the SBDC has 17 offices in regions throughout the state to help serve the business community. Since 1977, the SBDC network of partners has helped construct a statewide ecosystem to foster the spirit, support, and success of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators. A part of UGA Public Service and Outreach, the SBDC, is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. Learn more at https://www.georgiasbdc.org.

New faculty at UGA explore research and collaboration opportunities during state tour

Justin Bahl, a new faculty member in the College of Public Health, studies the spread of infectious disease.

Sabriya Rice, a new faculty member in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, teaches budding journalists how to write about health and medical issues.

When they met on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, Bahl and Rice discovered a mutual interest. Bahl’s students need to learn how to talk about their work in ways that non-scientists can easily understand. Rice’s students need to know how to translate the scientific language into layman’s terms.

“Justin and his students study the spread of influenza, for example, and that could be an opportunity for students to write about,” said Rice, the new Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism.

Sabriya Rice at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.

Rice and Bahl, an associate professor of infectious diseases and bioinformatics, were among the 40 UGA faculty members on the 2018 New Faculty Tour, which began in Gainesville and traveled through 15 cities and 48 counties, with stops in Dahlonega, Atlanta, Griffin, Senoia, Tifton, Waycross, Savannah and Sandersville, among others. Tour participants learned about the culture, history, geography and economic engines that drive the state: agritourism at Jaemor Farms near Gainesville, the film industry at Raleigh (AMC) Studios in Senoia, manufacturing at the Kia plant in West Point, the Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah and the kaolin industry in Sandersville.

With hours together on the bus and at stops, the faculty members found shared interests, made friends, discussed collaborations and explored opportunities for themselves and their students throughout the state.

For Gabrielle Darville, an evaluation coordinator for health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, the tour provided an opportunity to see firsthand the differences between urban and rural Georgia.

“Since I teach intro to public health, I teach students across departments and disciplines at UGA,” Darville said. “Now I have more resources at my fingertips to connect students with internships, jobs, fellowships. I can help them navigate life better now that I know what both rural and urban Georgia have to offer.”

Many on the trip gained a better understanding of how UGA serves the state through its land-grant and sea-grant designation.

“As someone who studies and teaches about higher education, I’ve never had a clear picture of what a land-grant university looked like,” said Georgianna Martin, an assistant professor of counseling and human development services in the College of Education. “Seeing one in action was inspiring. I have a much clearer picture of what a land-grant university looks like in action, and I learned about the sea-grant designation, which I had never heard of.”

Faculty members visited Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to learn about UGA’s sea-grant mission.

Even lifetime residents of Georgia learned a few new things on the tour.

“Being a native of Georgia myself, I was uncertain about the benefits of the tour,” said Jason Estep, a Cooperative Extension 4-H Specialist for Leadership and Citizenship Programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s only been a few days and I’ve been to all new places and seen firsthand how connected UGA is throughout the entire state.”

No matter where professors travelled across Georgia, UGA’s impact was present and tangible.

“There’s such a vibrancy in the UGA community, and that feeling is shared across Georgia,” said Nathaniel Hunsu, an assistant professor of engineering education in the College of Engineering. “I did not know the vastness of UGA and the great things happening off campus before this tour.”

 

View more photos from the New Faculty Tour

 

Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 912-687-2090

Photographer: Shannah Montgomery, smont@uga.edu, 706-542-3638

Contact: Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-296-0855

UGA-based program helps nonprofits build organizational leadership capacity

When Goodwill of North Georgia sought to develop leaders at all levels of its organization, it turned to a nonprofit executive leadership program housed at the University of Georgia.

Each year since 2010, Goodwill of North Georgia has enrolled several employees in the Executive Leadership Program for Nonprofit Organizations (ELPNO) at UGA, a partnership between the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, and the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The weeklong program explores national trends, best practices and frameworks for strategic leadership. Session topics include governance, revenue development, financial stewardship, ethics and nonprofit leadership competencies.

So far, 21 Goodwill employees have completed the program, and a number have earned higher positions in the organization as a result.

“Staff members who have completed the program come back with a new outlook on their work,” said Elaine Armstrong, vice president of marketing for Goodwill of North Georgia. “They have a deeper understanding of the nonprofit landscape and how Goodwill fits into it. There is also no denying the impact of the personal development piece of ELPNO. Since graduating, we have promoted a number of staff, and they lead with both confidence and competence.”

In all, Goodwill of North Georgia has sent 21 employees through ELPNO, including Shereen Ashtiani, regional manager for community development, who graduated from the program in 2018.

“I have always been focused on certain parts of Goodwill of North Georgia because it is such a large organization, but ELPNO allowed me to spend time learning about the big picture of operating a nonprofit,” Ashtiani said. “Because of that, I am thinking more globally about the organization in regards to my position, and I am able to use that in working with and leading others.”

Applicants are admitted into the program based on their role in their nonprofit organization, their professional achievement and the extent to which they can show the impact participation ELPNO will have on their organizational and professional aspirations.

“The ELPNO curriculum cultivates stronger leaders who walk away with practical strategies they can apply to advance the health and sustainability of their organizations,” said Julie Meehan, a Fanning Institute public service assistant who works with ELPNO. “Nonprofits cultivating leaders at all levels throughout the organization serve their stakeholders and communities more efficiently and effectively.”

For organizations like Goodwill of North Georgia, Armstrong said ELPNO has provided a tremendous return on the investment.

“I highly encourage other organizations to take full advantage of what ELPNO provides,” Armstrong said. “Rarely do you come across a program that offers the depth of content this program does. ELPNO is the type of program that will lay the foundation for a strong nonprofit community in Georgia and beyond.”

The deadline to apply for ELPNO 2019 is November 15, 2018. Space is limited and faculty members review all program applications.

For more information, visit www.elpno.org or call Diane Southwood at 706-542-0159.

Writer: Charlie Bauder, Charlie.Bauder@fanning.uga.edu, 706.542.7039

UGA has three finalists for national economic development award

For the second year, three University of Georgia programs have been selected as finalists for national awards recognizing innovation in economic development.

Archway Partnership, Carl Vinson Institute of Government and Innovation Gateway are among the 24 finalists for the University Economic Development Association 2018 Awards of Excellence. UGA’s finalists are in different categories and will not compete with one another.

UEDA represents higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders across North America. Entries were judged by a panel of university and economic development professionals based on the alignment of their institution’s core mission activities with regional economic development goals. Categories include innovation, talent and place, as well as the intersections of these three categories. Criteria for judging included originality, scalability, sustainability, impact and the feasibility of other organizations replicating the initiatives in their communities.

Two of the finalists are from units of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach:

  • UGA Archway Partnership Addresses Healthcare Needs in Rural Georgia is a project in which UGA faculty and students worked side-by-side with local stakeholders in Pulaski County to evaluate health data, conduct surveys and host focus groups to prepare the local hospital’s mandated Community Health Needs Assessment. The CHNA assisted the rural hospital in remaining viable in a challenging environment by bringing to light new services that community members would like to see. This collaboration led to the establishment of an urgent care clinic at Taylor Regional Hospital. The clinic is seeing an average of 18 patients a day and has reduced hospital emergency room traffic by 10 percent. The Archway Partnership project is a finalist in the “Place” category.
  • The Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program was developed by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government in an effort to be responsive to Georgia’s economic development needs. The state-specific training provides the essential high-quality curriculum needed by economic development professionals to effectively compete in today’s global economy. The program offers economic developers the opportunity to achieve their certification more cost-effectively, as courses are taught in central locations around Georgia, and timely, within a two- to three-year period. The courses offer practical, skills-based training with immediate application. The program design is grounded in a competency cluster framework that reflects internationally recognized skills and abilities. Since the launch in 2016, participants from over half of Georgia’s 159 counties have enrolled in GCED classes. In September 2017, UGA awarded the first GCED designation followed by four additional recipients in May 2018. The GCED program is a finalist in the “Talent + Place” category.

“We are honored to be finalists again in this national competition,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach. “This recognizes UGA’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all Georgians.”

The third finalist is from the Office of Research:

  • The Cultivar Development Research Program is an internal grant program, managed by Innovation Gateway in cooperation with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Georgia Seed Development Commission, that is funded entirely by the licensing royalty revenue derived from UGA-developed plant cultivars (varieties). Since 1997, the CDRP has provided almost $20 million in grant funding that has helped generate more than 300 new plant cultivars. Cultivars generated through CDRP funding have had a tremendous impact on Georgia’s $73 billion agriculture industry, helping Georgia become the No. 1 state for peanut, blueberry and pecan production. Furthermore, the CDRP simultaneously serves as an effective tool in attracting and retaining top-tier plant breeding scientists to UGA. The CDRP is a finalist in the “Innovation” category.

“The beauty of UGA’s Cultivar Development Research Program is that we use licensing revenue from existing cultivars to invest in research that yields the next generation of cultivars, and so it propagates the university’s very positive impact on commercial agriculture,” said Vice President for Research David Lee. “It’s a win-win for everyone and has allowed us to maintain a robust, diverse plant breeding portfolio.”

Winners will be announced during the UEDA Annual Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Oct. 21-24, 2018.

Two other UGA programs were selected as “Lightning Round” entries, new in 2018. Each entry will be allowed a five-minute pitch to the audience at the UEDA Annual Summit in October, followed by a question and answer period.

UGA’s Lightning Round entries are:

  • The Animal Health Hackathon, hosted by UGA and Boehringer-Ingelheim, the world’s second largest animal health company, brought together students, faculty, entrepreneurs and business leaders to explore multidisciplinary approaches for improving animal health. Thirteen diverse teams competed for $5,000 and a one-year membership to a community business incubator. The momentum from this Hackathon continues to build the innovation pipeline – several teams are pursuing patents on their solutions and participating in UGA’s idea accelerator.
  • The New Materials Institute (NMI) is an interdisciplinary effort with 20 faculty working with public and private partners to pioneer systems and materials that promote a circular economy. Programs range from innovative waste management systems to novel, truly biodegradable materials that meet the high expectations of industry and their consumers. Most importantly, NMI trains the next generation of engineers and scientists to use this holistic approach

 

Writer:

Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-296-0855

Contact:

Jennifer Frum, jfrum@uga.edu, 706-542-3352

David Lee, dclee@uga.edu, 706-542-5969

Annual tour introduces new UGA faculty to the state’s diverse economy

 

About 40 new University of Georgia faculty members on Monday kicked off a five-day tour of the state that will showcase agriculture and agritourism, industry, innovation, the Georgia coast and its rural communities.

From Aug. 6-10, the tour will visit 15 cities and pass through 48 counties, introducing faculty who have been at UGA for two or fewer years to the geography, culture, history and economic engines of the state. Along the way faculty see how entrenched UGA, Georgia’s land- and sea-grant institution, is throughout the state.

The tour began with a welcome from UGA President Jere W. Morehead at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. From there, the bus heads to Jaemor Farms near Gainesville, a working family farm that now draws hundreds of visitors a year for events and activities, in addition to fresh produce like tomatoes, peaches and strawberries, boiled peanuts and fried pies.

“Many of our faculty come from other parts of the country and the world and this trip really opens their eyes to the diversity we enjoy here in the state of Georgia,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “In addition they get to meet one another and discover common interests, which often leads to great interdisciplinary partnerships when they get back to campus.”

During the trip, participants will visit:

  • Amicalola Falls State Park, the southern gateway to the Appalachian Trail;
  • the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta;
  • the Georgia State Capitol, where faculty will hear from Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley;
  • the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center at UGA-Griffin;
  • the City of Senoia, home to Riverwood Studios and The Walking Dead;
  • Kia Motors Manufacturing in West Point;
  • the Carnegie Library in Americus;
  • the UGA-Tifton campus;
  • the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross;
  • UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island in Savannah;
  • the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History in Savannah; and
  • the Georgia Ports Authority in Garden City.

The last stop will be in Washington County, a UGA Archway Partnership community, where faculty will enjoy ice cream from the The Dairy Lane restaurant and learn about the kaolin industry, Archway and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The New Faculty Tour is coordinated by the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach and is made possible by major support from the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. Additional sponsors include the UGA Alumni Association, UGA Foundation, and a multitude of other units and supporters of the University of Georgia.

 

Writer: Leah Moss, leahmoss@uga.edu, 706-583-0964

Contact: Kelly Simmons, simmonsk@uga.edu, 706-296-0855

UGA studies potential partnerships with industry to engage more students in STEM fields

 

Some of Avalon Kandrac’s most enlightening moments as an undergraduate in the College of Engineering are outside the classroom.

Meeting professional engineers and working as an intern helps her better understand the academic lessons, which can be a challenge, and keep her on track. This summer she’s working at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, helping develop safety policies and environmental goals. She expects to graduate next year with a degree in biological engineering with an emphasis on the environment.

“Business engagement early on is really helpful,” Kandrac said. “These experiences are super helpful in reinforcing why you should stick it out.”

David Tanner, an associate director at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, is working alongside two other UGA units to find ways to engage businesses with higher education to help keep students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to provide them the experience that the companies are looking for in graduates.

“Businesses want to be more engaged, but it’s not easy,” Tanner said. “What works for student persistence and keeps them energized? What can companies do to incentivize that?”

Using an interdisciplinary seed grant from the office of UGA President Jere Morehead, Tanner and colleagues Timothy Burg, director of the Office of STEM Education, and Karen Webber, an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education, are developing a tool to help businesses make smart investment choices in higher education. They have convened focus groups over the last year to gather input from educators, administrators and business leaders. Those conversations across and between organizations are critical to figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in the universe of STEM careers, but each company has unique experiences in recruiting talent to add to the conversation, said Amy Hutchins, education and workforce development manager at Georgia Power. Tanner and his team are helping bring those people together, she said.

“You can throw some logs across a river or you can work together to build a bridge to move massive amounts of people,” she said. “UGA brings experience and objectivity to something like this. We’re always interested in partnering for the greater good.”

Tanner has met a lot of business people through Crystal Leach, director of industry collaborations in the UGA Office of Research, and Jill Walton, executive director of UGA Corporate and Foundation Relations. Their connections have helped him gain valuable insight into the needs and observations of industry. His research could help them convince more companies to invest in UGA students.

“We want to give companies a road map for how they can get involved, how their dollars can be used and how that might impact their recruitment efforts,” Walton said. “It’s hard to reach every company. A lot of times we have to focus our time and energy on the bigger companies. It would be great to have a standard toolkit to help with these decisions.”

The aim is to get kids interested in STEM fields in grade school and keep them engaged through college and into their career. That would be attractive for universities, students and businesses.

“If we can identify those good investments, we could increase the volume and quality of business engagement in STEM education,” Tanner said. “That could have a big impact on the STEM workforce in Georgia.”

 

Contact: David Tanner, dtanner@uga.edu, 706-583-0151

UGA installs first large-scale green infrastructure project in Brunswick

The area next to the soccer field at Brunswick’s Howard Coffin Park received a much-needed facelift in the form of native plants and new soil.

The 3,000-square-foot tract is a large scale stormwater demonstration project that UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant hopes will educate visitors on ways to improve water quality.

Jessica Brown, stormwater specialist at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, oversaw construction of the site, which is called, in technical terms, a bioretention cell.

“This project will serve as a case study and educational demonstration of a bioretention cell, which is a stormwater management practice that captures and treats runoff,” Brown says. “It’s a form of green infrastructure that helps protect and restore habitat by mimicking the natural water cycle.”

The bioretention cell, next to a tidal ditch, will act as a buffer for the park. When it rains, excess water from the soccer field will flow into the bioretention cell, which consists of layers of sandy soils, mulch and stone. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals applied to the playing field will be filtered out through these layers instead of running directly into the tidal creek.

With population growth and increased land development in coastal Georgia, the use of green infrastructure has become increasingly important because it protects water quality and coastal habitats from pollution.

Brown worked with the City’s Engineer, Garrow Alberson, to design the bioretention cell. City employees constructed the project.

Alberson hopes the project will raise public awareness of green infrastructure practices.

“It seems that a lot of developers and engineers are hesitant to implement these practices because of factors like cost, long-term maintenance and effectiveness,” he said. “Hopefully, the construction of the demonstration cell will show that these practices can be effective for runoff volume reduction and water quality improvement, and that the practices can be cost-effective to install.”

The final phase of the project involved installing native plants, selected by Keren Giovengo, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s EcoScapes program manager. The EcoScapes Sustainable Land Use program promotes responsible stewardship of natural resources in Georgia through sustainable land development and landscaping practices.

Keren Giovengo, EcoScapes program manager, demonstrates how to plant one of the native plants in the bioretention cell.

“Because of the size of the bioretention cell, I was able to consider a variety of trees, shrubs, grasses and palms for the site,” Giovengo says. “They were selected to provide a diverse array of local deciduous and evergreen species that are low maintenance and can tolerate drought, flooding and salt.”

Twelve students participating in a landscaping course through the Job Corps Center in Brunswick assisted with the planting.

Job Corps, a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, helps young people ages 16 to 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training.

“They’re in our program for roughly eight months and we help them earn their high school diploma or learn a trade and become certified,” says Kevin Brandon, landscaping instructor at the Brunswick Job Corps Center.

“We look for as many hands-on opportunities like this as possible because our goal is to get them a job when they complete the course,” he says.

Thanks to help from the students, all 216 native plants were in the ground in less than four hours.

Brown plans to showcase the demonstration site to environmental professionals and public works staff in surrounding counties.

“My hope is that we can do enough demonstration projects, such as this one, to better understand how they perform in a coastal environment and build capacity within the local workforce,” says Brown. “Fostering ownership of these type of practices at the local level will go a long way to support future implementation.”

Writer: Emily Woodward, ewoodward@uga.edu, 912-598-2348

UGA hires longtime economic developer to steer rural initiatives

 

Saralyn Stafford, a community and economic developer with a 30-year career focused on Georgia, joins the University of Georgia in July to link rural communities with UGA’s vast knowledge and expertise.

“Economic prosperity in rural Georgia is a top priority for the state and a strategic priority of the University of Georgia’s outreach programs,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach at UGA. “Saralyn is well known as a collaborative and knowledgeable leader with great passion for rural Georgia, and we are thrilled to have her join our team.”

Stafford will serve as a liaison between UGA and local elected officials, chambers of commerce, economic development professionals, school boards, non-profit organizations, small business owners and other community leaders.

Based in south Georgia’s Coffee County, her work will focus on connecting communities with UGA’s Public Service and Outreach units, including the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the Small Business Development Center and the Archway Partnership, to assist in addressing community and regional challenges.

“Saralyn will do aggressive outreach with all of our constituencies, primarily in South Georgia, to help create jobs, develop future leaders, and assist rural communities with using their unique assets to promote economic prosperity,” Frum said.

Stafford has a strong record of working in community and economic development across the state since 1987 with a focus on rural communities, particularly in Southeast Georgia. As a local economic developer and chamber of commerce president for 15 years, Stafford led efforts in the city of Waycross and in Coffee and Pierce counties.

She has served in various leadership capacities at the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in Atlanta for the past 16 years. Most recently, she provided technical assistance and oversight for local and regional planning, research and surveys for local governments, downtown development, the state’s AmeriCorps program and the Keep Georgia Beautiful initiative as DCA’s division director for community development.

At UGA, Stafford will also offer her expertise in training government officials and community leaders and in strategic planning within rural communities.

 

Contact: Laura Meadows, lmeadows@uga.edu, 706-542-6192

Writer: Jana Wiggins, wigginsj@uga.edu, 706-542-6221