Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant at the University of Georgia received a 2017 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Award of Excellence for helping communities on the Georgia coast reduce their risk of flooding and subsequently qualify for lower flood insurance rates.

The award was presented to UGA representatives on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, during the UEDA Annual Summit in Long Beach, Calif. UEDA represents higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders across North America.

“My deepest congratulations to the UGA faculty and staff who are behind this outstanding national award,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their efforts to support communities across Georgia underscore exactly what it means to be a land- and sea-grant university in the 21st Century.”

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant won for sea level rise adaptation plans, developed in partnership with the coastal cities of Tybee Island and St. Marys. Using a grant from the National Sea Grant, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant faculty, as well as faculty from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, analyzed risks and vulnerabilities from tidal flooding and sea-level rise over the next 50 years, and developed a plan that enabled savings of $3 million on flood insurance for property owners. The plan has emerged as a model for other coastal communities across the country.

Three UGA programs were finalists for the UEDA award, which are judged on the alignment of their institution’s core mission activities with regional economic development goals in three categories: Innovation, Talent, and Place, as well as the intersections of these three categories.

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant were in the Place category, along with the Archway Partnership, which focused on work that helps Georgia communities address critical locally identified economic development needs, including infrastructure for growth and business recruitment, workforce development, leadership, tourism and downtown revitalization. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and the Archway Partnership are UGA public service units.

“I am extremely proud that we have been recognized nationally for the work we are doing on the coast as well as throughout the state,” said Laura Meadows, interim vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and the Archway Partnership are tapping into the vast resources of the university to help Georgia communities thrive.”

Innovation Gateway, a unit of UGA’s Office of Research, was a finalist in the Innovation category. That program was launched in 2015 to consolidate UGA’s technology transfer and new business startup programs, thereby streamlining the path from lab or field to the marketplace.

The competing organizations were judged by a panel of university and economic development professionals Criteria for judging included originality, scalability, sustainability, impact, and the feasibility of other organizations replicating the initiatives in their communities.

“The fact that so many University of Georgia programs were recognized in this national economic development competition highlights just how deeply committed our faculty and staff are to changing lives for the better,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “The impact of their work extends across our state and beyond, and I am delighted that they have received this significant honor.”

Writer: Kelly Simmons

Contact: Mark Risse