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UGA poised to help small business apply for newly available relief funding

The University of Georgia is prepared to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations apply for relief funding now available through the federal Economic Aid Act.

The UGA Small Business Development Center has scheduled three webinars to help explain eligibility for the new funding, which is intended to help Georgia’s small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Webinars will be held:

• Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 10 a.m.
• Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 2 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m.

The webinars are no-cost to participants but registration is required. Go to https://www.georgiasbdc.org/2nd-round-covid-funding-webinars to register and for more information.

In addition to the webinars, small business owners can seek help with applications by calling consultants in one of the state’s 18-regional SBDC offices.

Most of the funding in the Economic Aid Act, a part of the overall Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, is for programs to support small businesses and individuals, although it does provide for additional programs. This relief package differs from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, in a couple of ways.

“First, and most significantly, the funding for small businesses provides for a more focused support on those businesses hardest hit by the impacts of the pandemic,” said Mark Lupo, a business specialist with the SBDC. “Second, the relief packages include more non-profit eligibility, even to include public and state-owned organizations.”

Nonprofits interested in more information about available funding and how to apply should contact Sayge Medlin at the UGA J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, sayge.medlin@fanning.uga.edu, 706-542-4550.

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Relief programs include:

• The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is extended in the new legislation, also provides businesses that have been more severely impacted by the pandemic and that meet certain eligibility requirements an opportunity for a second loan.

• The COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which is extended for applications through Dec. 31, 2021, offers an EIDL advance for those hardest hit, smaller businesses with fewer than 300 employees that show at least a 30% decline in revenue for a specified period, and are located in low-income communities.

• The Debt Relief Program, which provides for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to pay the principal and interest from six to 14 months on current and future SBA loans approved up until Sep. 30, 2021. This program is for businesses in the hardest hit business sectors, including restaurants, hotels and some hospitality organizations.

• Additional programs include the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant for smaller organizations, such as live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums, and independent motion picture theatres; rental assistance programs; child care providers; transportation providers; and farmers and ranchers.

During the spring, after the first round of relief funding was released, the UGA SBDC was able to help 3,300 Georgia small businesses secure $88 million in grants and loans.
For more information, go to the SBDC web site at www.georgiasbdc.org.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service & Outreach Director of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-296-0855

CONTACT

Allan Adams UGA SBDC Director

aadams@georgiasbdc.org • 706-542-6626

UGA SBDC helps small businesses with new COVID-19 funding

The University of Georgia has scheduled additional webinars to help small businesses prepare to apply for funding through the federal COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package, expected to be available in mid to late January.

The webinars, presented by the UGA Small Business Development Center, will be held:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 5, 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m.

Participants should register at www.georgiasbdc.org/2nd-round-covid-funding-webinars/.

A prerecorded webinar is available on demand for those who attend a live session.

More than 1,300 participants tuned into earlier UGA webinars held in December, just after Congress approved the new funding package. Gov. Brian Kemp and UGA launched an informational web site to help small business owners easily access information about the loans as they become available. Once application instructions are provided, consultants in the UGA SBDC’s 18 regional offices will assist business owners with the process.

Funding available through the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package will extend the federal Paycheck Protection Program through March 2021, enhance the SBA’s current lending programs and create dedicated programs for the hardest hit industries and smaller businesses. The PPP provides money for business owners to continue to pay employees and cover essential costs such as rent and utilities.

The UGA SBDC was able to help 3,300 Georgia small businesses secure $88 million in grants and loans through the initial emergency relief funding, provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020.

For more information, go to www.georgiasbdc.org.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service & Outreach Director of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-542-2512

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UGA naturalist retires but legacy will continue on through endowed fellowship

For 30 years, John “Crawfish” Crawford has regaled campers and school children on field trips to the UGA Aquarium, guiding them on nature walks through the salt marsh and introducing them to the many creatures that call coastal Georgia home.

His tenure officially ended Dec. 1, when Crawford retired from the University of Georgia. But his legacy will continue through an endowed educator position at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, funded by a generous estate gift made by longtime supporters.

The John “Crawfish” Crawford Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellowship will generate incentive for a leading naturalist to fill a faculty educator role at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium and provide the resources to support traditional naturalist practices that maintain an emphasis on exploration, curiosity, field interpretation and personal connection to the world.

A new film by Motion House Media tells the story of Crawford’s impact through interviews with individuals who have been inspired by the larger than life conservationist over the years. Watch it here. 

The endowed funds will also enhance the faculty fellow’s ability to make a difference in the lives of students and help fulfill the university’s public service and outreach mission—as Crawford has.

“Someone who gets the endowed fellowship will need to know who John is, what he cared about, and what he’s like,” says Ruth McMullin, who, with her husband Tom, made the gift. “We want to make sure the way (John) teaches, his enthusiasm, and his methodology remain when he’s no longer here.”

McMullin, who lives on Skidaway Island, has been volunteering at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium for 23 years. She is inspired by Crawford’s curiosity, enthusiasm and ability to mold minds and develop stewards of Georgia’s coastal environments.

“He’s just so special,” McMullin said. “I was really happy to volunteer because I knew I would get to spend more time learning from him.”

“I have learned an awful lot from watching how he interacts with children and adults and how he shares his excitement with other people. You can’t be somebody you admire, but you can copy them.”

John "Crawfish" Crawford shows visitors some native plants on Skidaway Island

Crawford grew up in Savannah, where he explored the coast’s mud flats and maritime forests, discovering corn snakes, fiddler crabs and other animals that often found their way into his house. At age 15, he had dozens of pet snakes, all of which he kept in his room.

He cultivated his knowledge of coastal resources at Armstrong State College and Florida Keys Community College in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After his time in Florida, he made his way back to the Georgia coast where he continued to make his mark on the conservation and environmental education community.

He joined UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant in 1990, where as a marine educator he has spent 30 years sharing his knowledge with K-12 students, teachers, education fellows, coastal residents and conservation professionals.

“He has taught hundreds of professional educators, tens of thousands of students, and changed the landscape of environmental and marine education along the coast,” says Anne Lindsay, associate director of marine education at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “He knows boats, plants, animals and people and a little about every other natural science or coastal topic you can think of.”

John "Crawfish" Crawford folds a sea creature in his hand for a visitor to touch.Lindsay, who was mentored by Crawford when she was hired at what was then the UGA Marine Extension Service in the 1990s, explains how he laid the foundation for the education programs that are still offered at the facility today.

“He has helped us expand our reach, establish new collaborations and partnerships, nurture long standing relationships with educators, scientists and citizens,” Lindsay said. “He has cemented the reputation of the Marine Education Center and Aquarium as an institution with a standard of educational quality that we aspire to uphold.”

Learn more about Crawford and the importance of this endowed position in a short film by Motion House Media, a video production company based in Athens, Georgia. The film tells the story of Crawford’s impact through interviews with individuals who have been inspired by the larger than life conservationist over the years.

Gifts in honor of Crawfish can be made at http://gacoast.uga.edu/crawfish


CONTACT

Emily Kenworthy Public Relations Coordinator

ekenworthy@uga.edu • 912-598-2348, ext. 107

New leaders tapped for UGA’s Institute of Government and Archway Partnership

New directors will take the reins of UGA Public Service and Outreach programs in January, following the retirements of two longtime public service professionals.

Rob Gordon, current director of the UGA Archway Partnership, will become director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Gordon will succeed Laura Meadows, who retires Dec. 31, 2020 after more than 30 years in state government, 11 of those at the UGA Institute of Government, almost 10 as director.

Headshot of Laura Meadows.

Longtime economic development professional Matthew Colvin has been selected as the University of Georgia’s next economic development director in Atlanta, succeeding Sean McMillan, who also retires Dec. 31, 2020 having served as UGA’s first Atlanta-based economic development director since 2013.

“Both Meadows and McMillan are dedicated public servants and both have improved UGA and the state in measurable ways,” said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach.

“We are very fortunate in Public Service and Outreach to have an abundance of strong leaders, whose priority is making the state more prosperous for all Georgians,” Frum said.

Gordon, a native of Jesup, Georgia, joined Archway as director in 2015. There, he is responsible for the unit’s overall strategic direction and programs that address a wide-range of locally-identified community priorities intended to strengthen economic development.

From 2010 to 2014, Gordon worked for the Institute of Government as manager of its economic development and fiscal analysis unit, overseeing the Applied Demography Program, Tax and Expenditure Data Center, and Fiscal Analysis Program.

Sean McMillan headshot.“Rob’s previous experience at the Vinson Institute, his years of leading the Archway Partnership and his governmental service have prepared him for this new position,” Frum said. “I am confident he will continue to elevate the institute’s service to governments of all levels in Georgia.”

Colvin is currently the executive director of economic development for the University System of Georgia. Prior to that he worked on economic development and workforce initiatives first for Electric Cities of Georgia, then as state initiatives director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Matt has a deep understanding of economic development and the inextricable link between higher education, innovation and job creation,” Frum said.

Michelle Elliott, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership, will serve as interim director. A search for a permanent director will be launched after the first of the year.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service & Outreach Director of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706.542.2512

Hispanic chamber honors UGA small business expert

When Carolina Ramon joined the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, she knew she could draw on her extensive history of launching business enterprises and designing entrepreneur programs to move the needle on successful small business startups in Georgia.  She decided to focus first on underrepresented entrepreneurs.

She reached out to entrepreneurs and small business owners across the state to see if they were benefiting from the SBDC programs.

“I wanted to make sure we were training the entire community as it needed,” Ramon says.

Program creation

Based on specific feedback from the Hispanic community, Ramon created two business development programs, the Hispanic Entrepreneur Series and the Premier Development Program, designed to help Hispanic entrepreneurs do business with the federal government and the private sector. Program graduates have expanded their businesses, created jobs in their communities, and developed joint ventures with other program participants.

In September, for the second year in a row, Ramon was listed among the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Most Influential Hispanics in Georgia. The selections are based on an individual’s degree of influence exhibited in their role as a representative of the Hispanic community. More than 300 individuals were nominated.

Ramon points to partnerships between the SBDC and the chamber, as well as companies like Georgia Power and Sun Trust Bank, that have helped Hispanic entrepreneurs become successful by offering them resources, services and scholarships throughout Georgia.

People from underrepresented populations have a harder time getting loans than white-owned businesses. Many have little or no credit and aren’t eligible for big bank loans, she said.

“The key to me was to create collaborations,” she said.

In the past two years, 36 percent of the SBDC’s clients statewide have been from underrepresented populations, said Allan Adams, UGA SBDC director.

“Carolina has been a critical part of the SBDC’s effort to reach this significant sector of the Georgia business economy by helping provide targeted assistance to help firms understand various financing options, explain procurement systems for government and larger company purchasers, as well as providing Spanish language training in accounting systems and strategic management,” Adams said. “Carolina’s enthusiasm and energy for helping others is inspiring. We are incredibly fortunate to have her at UGA.”

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A year of challenges

In announcing the 2020 list of influential Hispanics, Chamber Interim President and CEO Gabriel Vaca noted that those selected had been forced to persevere this year more than in the past.

“This year has been different dealing with the virus pandemic and civil unrest,” Vaca said. “However, despite the circumstances, these 50 Most influential Latinos of Georgia have continued to impact the Hispanic community by supporting and helping those in need and lifting others to their full potential.”

Since the pandemic began, Ramon and her team helped Hispanic business owners secure more than $6.8 million in federal loans available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, approved by Congress in March.

“We conducted the Small Business Administration Emergency Loan programs overview in Spanish every two weeks from March to July,” Ramon said.  “We trained over 600 Hispanic business owners.”

Ramon also trained 400 Hispanic business owners to apply for the funds themselves, and offered no-cost training programs and webinars that covered the federal loan programs.

Influential list

“We are very established in the Hispanic community in Georgia,” Ramon said.

Webinars about the federal loan programs were also provided to other groups whose first language is not English and were conducted simultaneously in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese. More than 323 Pan Asian business owners attended.

In addition to Ramon, the most influential list includes people from business, sports, entertainment and politics, including such notables as John King, Georgia’s Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner; Mexican Consul General Javier Diaz De Leon; Atlanta Public Schools Board Chair Jason Esteves; TV journalists Astrid Martinez and Mariela Romero; Georgia Power executive Misty Fernandez; soccer star Josef Martinez of Atlanta United; and Dr. Carlos del Rio of Emory University.

This year’s Hall of Fame included judge Dax Lopez, Latin American Association CEO and former GHCC president and CEO Santiago Marquez, and Latino Community Fund Executive Director Gilda (Gigi ) Pedraza.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service and Outreach Director of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-542-2512

CONTACT

Carolina Ramon Dir. SBDC Office of Minority Business Development

cramon@georgiasbdc.org • 470-268-5793

Matthew Colvin named UGA’s Economic Development Director in Atlanta

Longtime economic development professional, Matthew Colvin, has been selected as the University of Georgia’s next economic development director in Atlanta, succeeding Sean McMillan, who retires Dec. 31.

Colvin is currently the executive director of economic development for the University System of Georgia. Prior to that he worked on economic development and workforce initiatives first for Electric Cities of Georgia, then as state initiatives director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

“Matt has a deep understanding of economic development and the inextricable link between higher education, innovation and job creation,” said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach. “He is the ideal person to succeed Sean, who stepped into this new position in 2013 and helped bolster UGA’s partnerships with the private sector, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Georgia Economic Developers Association and chambers of commerce.”

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UGA’s vice presidents for public service and outreach and research are jointly responsible for UGA’s Atlanta economic development office. Colvin will be based in Midtown Atlanta in the Centergy Building, near the offices of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. UGA’s Atlanta-based economic development efforts complement the University’s many economic and community development efforts across all of Georgia.

“UGA’s robust, diverse, and expanding research expertise can be a major draw for companies considering relocating to Georgia, and it is an important asset for those already established in the state,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “Sean McMillan has done an outstanding job of connecting UGA’s research expertise with economic development efforts that help communities across Georgia, and Matt Colvin has the right background and personality to continue these critically important efforts. I am delighted to welcome him on board.”

Colvin has three degrees from UGA, with undergraduate degrees in political science and broadcast journalism, and an MBA from the Terry College of Business. He also is pursuing his PhD in higher education from UGA.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service & Outreach Director of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-296-0855

CONTACT

Jennifer Frum Vice President for Public Service & Outreach

jfrum@uga.edu • 706-542-6167

Rob Gordon named director of the UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government

Rob Gordon, who now heads the UGA Archway Partnership, will become director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, effective Jan. 1, 2021.

Gordon succeeds Laura Meadows, who is retiring after more than 30 years in state government, 11 of those at the UGA Institute of Government, almost 10 as director.

“We are very fortunate in Public Service and Outreach to have an abundance of strong leaders, whose priority is making the state more prosperous for all Georgians,” said Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Laura is one of the finest, most dedicated public servants Georgia has ever seen. She has improved the state and UGA in measurable ways and she leaves the Vinson Institute well-positioned for the future. Rob’s previous experience at the Vinson Institute, his years of leading the Archway Partnership and his governmental service have prepared him for this new position. I am confident he will continue to elevate the institute’s service to governments of all levels in Georgia.”

Michelle Elliott, an operations coordinator with the Archway Partnership, will serve as interim director. A search for a permanent director will be launched after the first of the year.

Both the Archway Partnership and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government are UGA Public Service and Outreach units.

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Gordon, a native of Jesup, Georgia, joined Archway as director in 2015. There, he is responsible for the unit’s overall strategic direction and programs that address a wide-range of locally-identified community priorities intended to strengthen economic development.

Since 2015, the Archway Partnership has completed more than 600 community projects addressing a diverse array of community needs. Through its work, Archway has funded more than 80 graduate assistantships, provided over 500 students with experiential learning opportunities and supported over 300 faculty partnerships, representing all UGA colleges, schools and Public Service and Outreach units. Gordon also increased external funding dollars and other external support to the unit and to the Archway communities.

From 2010 to 2014, Gordon worked for the Institute of Government as manager of its economic development and fiscal analysis unit, overseeing the Applied Demography Program, Tax and Expenditure Data Center, and Fiscal Analysis Program. Gordon served as a special agent in the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1999-2002 in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Albania. He received a Superior Honor Award from Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and a Meritorious Honor Award from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell for crisis management and performance in the line of duty. Prior to first joining the Institute of Government in 2010, Gordon practiced public finance law at Troutman Sanders in Richmond and King & Spalding in Atlanta.

Gordon holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C.


WRITER

Kelly Simmons Public Service and Outreach Communications Director

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-296-0855

CONTACT

Rob Gordon Archway Partnership Director

gordon@uga.edu • 706-542-3268

Georgia Blue Key recognizes UGA graduate student for commitment to public service

UGA graduate student Nipuna Ambanpola has engaged in public service since he was a child in Sri Lanka. In 2017, he created an online nonprofit organization to link volunteers around the world to projects in their local communities.

Here in Athens during the pandemic, Ambanpola used the same technology to create GroceryAid, which connects Georgia residents at high risk of the virus with volunteers who can grocery shop for them.

“Volunteerism has always been a major part of my life,” said Ambanpola, a graduate student in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs and a graduate assistant with the J.W. Fanning Center for Leadership Development, a UGA public service unit. “When I came to Georgia, I found that most volunteer opportunities were led by organizations on campus or in the community. I started thinking about a way to help people identify volunteer opportunities no matter where they are, making it easier for them to get involved in their communities.”

The Georgia Chapter of Blue Key recognized Ambanpola by naming him the winner of the 2020 Tucker Dorsey Award during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 23. The annual award, which includes a $750 scholarship, goes to students whose leadership, dedication and ideals reflect those of Tucker Dorsey, founder of the Blue Key Awards Banquet. Tucker was an outstanding student leader dedicated to UGA, its heritage, its tradition, its ideals and its goals. He exemplified the quality of mind and spirit that the university seeks to cultivate through a well-rounded education. Ambanpola is the 2020-21 vice president of Georgia Blue Key.

“Nipuna has a servant’s heart,” said Jennifer Frum, UGA vice president for Public Service and Outreach, who nominated him for induction into Blue Key earlier this year. “He is absolutely the most effective student leader I have ever known and perhaps the most deserving recipient of the Tucker Dorsey Award.”

At the Fanning Institute, Ambanpola helps faculty with research, leadership program design and program implementation.

He is a tremendous asset to the institute, said Maritza Soto Keen, Fanning Institute associate director and senior public service faculty.

“Nipuna is exceptional at combining his creativity with service, and he looks for ways to join with others at every opportunity,” Keen said. “Servant leadership is his calling.”

He launched his international online nonprofit organization, IVolunteer, in 2017 before coming to UGA. Since then, more than 6,000 volunteers have connected with over 200 projects through IVolunteer International.

He got the idea for GroceryAid from Shopping Angels, an organization created during the COVID-19 pandemic to shop for residents of Nevada and other states who were deemed especially at-risk of the virus.

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“Once I saw what they were doing, I felt like we could use our technical expertise to build a platform for Georgia,” Ambanpola said. Shopping Angels “agreed and supported our efforts.”

“Putting this together has definitely been a community effort.”

GroceryAid went live in late April and has since had 158 volunteers in Georgia sign up to participate.

IVolunteer International is growing in other areas as well. The organization is developing a social impact mobile app for release later to complement its online efforts and make it easier for people to sign up. The UGA Kickstarter Fund awarded the organization $5,000 to support the app’s development.

“My involvement at the Fanning Institute allows me to explore and learn the true breadth of the public service industry,” Ambanpola said. “The skills I gain from my Fanning experience directly contribute to the way I sustain and grow IVolunteer International.”

For more information on GroceryAid go to  https://groceryaid.ivint.org/. To learn more about IVolunteer International, visit www.ivint.org.


WRITER

Charlie Bauder Fanning Institute Public Relations Coordinator

charlie.bauder@fanning.uga.edu • 706.244.6534

CONTACT

Nipuna Ambanpola UGA Graduate Student

nipuna@ivint.org • 912-484-1295

North Georgia farm has success with strawberries and pumpkins despite pandemic, thanks to UGA

Johnny and Kathy Burt’s first year farming strawberries was nearly a disaster.

COVID -19 hit just two weeks before the berries ripened and their first spring strawberry festival was to begin.

“That wasn’t possible. We were on pins and needles and I figured we wouldn’t have much of a year at all,” said Johnny Burt, who has been farming pumpkins in the north Georgia mountains since 1972

Thankfully, the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was there to help.

With SBDC assistance, the Burts applied for and received a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from Pinnacle Bank. They got the money at the end of April, in time to move forward with the strawberries.

The PPP, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president in March, covers employee salaries and other essential costs of business during a crisis.

An aerial shot of Johnny and Kathy Burt's pumpkin farm.

An aerial shot of Johnny and Kathy Burt’s pumpkin farm. (Submitted photo)

The PPP money covered the cost of the labor the Burts needed to work the fields and paid for them to rent much-needed farm equipment.

“We were able to offer work in April to people that normally wouldn’t have had a job here, and get the equipment to work on one of our fields,” Burt said. “Without the PPP loan, we wouldn’t have been able to afford that.”

A fall festival with pumpkins, hayrides and a country store has become a tradition for Burt’s Farm, near Amicalola Falls, Georgia. In 2019, the Burts began thinking about ways to expand their business, perhaps through a second location or by adding an additional crop. They heard about the SBDC and turned to the office in Gainesville for help.

Patrick Fulbright, area director of the Gainesville office, worked with the Burts to develop a business plan for year-round offerings, starting with strawberries in the spring of 2020.

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“We worked on a marketing plan for a launch with the strawberry festival and all the strawberry products they could offer in their store,” Fulbright said. “Everything was set to go. We had the strategy ready to implement and then COVID hit.”

Now, well into pumpkin season, Burt’s Farm is doing well, with a regular stream of visitors keeping them busy.

This might even be their best year yet, Burt said. They plan to add more strawberry plants next year.

“[The SBDC] is a program that takes care of people and I didn’t even know it was there until just last year,” Burt said. “I’ve referred people to Patrick and he’s helped them too. They are top notch people, willing to help and they do an excellent job.”


WRITER

Émilie GillePSO Public Relations Coordinator

emilie.gille@uga.edu • 706-583-0964

CONTACT

Patrick Fulbright Gainesville SBDC Area Director

gainesville@georgiasbdc.org • 770-531-5681

New entrance at UGA State Botanical Garden of Georgia makes grounds and facilities more accessible

A new entranceway to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia includes an outdoor elevator to allow visitors to more easily reach the grounds and facilities from the parking lots, and is the first of a trio of garden construction projects to be completed.

The entrance, which was completed and opened in mid-October, improves accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers, as well for as people who aren’t comfortable on stairs.

“I’ve been trying to convince my department to come here for a field trip and this makes it more likely,” said Christine Bishop, a special education teacher from Atlanta, who was in Athens to visit the garden. “A lot of my kids have wheelchairs and it’s difficult when we go on field trips sometimes, but this elevator here is a big game changer. All the wheelchair accessible walkways make a big difference too. The proximity to the parking lot is also just really nice and convenient for people with special needs, both young and old.”

The well-marked entrance also helps visitors know immediately where to go after they park, and they can glimpse the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center & Conservatory and the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden from an overlook before taking the elevator or stairs to the ground.

“It’s a completely new view of the botanical garden and really ties together the area where people come in and first become oriented,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden.

A man, a child, and woman pushing a stroller exit the outdoor elevator at the new entrance to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Linda Rivers (pushing stroller) visited the garden with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

The entranceway, with a bridge and walkway, is one of three projects that have been underway at the garden since August 2019. A Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum and Discovery and Inspiration Garden, which make up the garden’s Center for Arts and Nature (CAN), are nearing completion.

The interior of the Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum is expected to be finished by the end the year, with a variety of porcelain pieces from around the world installed before the center’s dedication on Jan. 29, 2021.

The extensive collection, donated by long-time garden supporter Deen Day Sanders, will be exhibited in permanent and rotating displays.

“Displaying the pieces on a rotating basis will give us an opportunity to create unique experiences,” said John Graham, director of finance and administration for the garden. “This way we can bring in new audiences and highlight different aspects of Deen’s collection.”

The Discovery and Inspiration Garden will surround the museum, with native plants and pollinators on display at eye level for adults and children. A pond will support the life cycles of frogs, dragonflies and other animal life in the garden. A great lawn will provide space for classes and special events.

The projects are privately funded, with gifts from Sanders, the Callaway Foundation, Tom Wight, Jim Miller, Mike and Betty Devore, Chuck and Suzanne Murphy, the Garden Club of Georgia Inc., and donors from across Georgia.

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WRITER

Émilie Gille PSO Public Relations Coordinator

emilie.gille@uga.edu • 706-583-0964

CONTACT

Jennifer Cruse-Sanders State Botanical Garden Director

crusesanders@uga.edu • 706-542-6131

Engage GA helps Athens community find volunteers

The Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) depends on volunteers to help provide services to older adults in the Clarke County area.

When the pandemic hit in March, almost half of the volunteers—many of them older adults themselves—had to stop volunteering in order to protect themselves from the virus.

At the same time, the need in the community for ACCA services was increasing.

Using UGA’s Engage Georgia online platform, the ACCA was able to find other volunteers to fill the void.

“We had no online volunteer onboarding or scheduling presence except for our website,” said Ellen Everitt, ACCA volunteer coordinator. “Now, we have a page where people can see what we’re doing and what they can do to help.”

The University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning (OSL) used an online program called GivePulse to develop the local, online platform called Engage GA. Through Engage GA, organizations can publicize their need for volunteers and community residents, including students, can find volunteer opportunities. In addition, faculty members can track a student’s engagement in experiential learning, now a requirement for graduation.

As of October, students had logged over 117,931 verified service hours online through Engage GA, with 35,406 hours in 2019 alone.

Three volunteers stand around a cooler.

From left, AmeriCorp VISTA Martinique Edwards works with UGA students Camille Steyeart and Matt Sartorato at the ACCA food distribution center. The students are both in a leadership class and signed up using the Engage GA platform. (Photo: Shannah Montgomery / PSO)

Nina Sassano, an educator and intern coordinator with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, set up an online time sheet tracking system in Engage GA for student interns and fellows.

“They can submit their hours for me to approve as well as share an experience or photos from their day that stood out, which we’re able to use later to showcase the program,” Sassano said.

County government offices, nonprofits and student organizations are among the Engage GA users.

Local nonprofit Books for Keeps, which provides books to children who might not otherwise have them, has been using the online platform for over three years to manage volunteer shifts, promote volunteer opportunities, meet new people and connect with other service organizations, said program manager Justin Bray.

“We’re a small organization, there’s only three of us, so we’re able to punch above our weight class, so to speak, because we have automated and streamlined processes through [Engage GA],” Bray said.

The data stored in Engage GA can show the impact of a specific event, course, or span of time, which can be useful for annual reporting, grant-writing and promotions.

“A nonprofit, campus organization or department can engage with both their campus community and their local community in the same online platform with ease,” said Josh Podvin, the UGA OSL assistant director for community partnerships, who manages Engage GA.

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For volunteer organizers, Engage GA makes the management of volunteer data simple and keeps it all in one place, which is a big benefit, said Cecile Riker, program education specialist for the Athens Clarke County Stormwater Management Program.

Riker has been using Engage GA for nearly three years for online volunteer recruitment and retention, and event promotion and planning for small and large-scale events like Rivers Alive, an annual program that draws community volunteers to clear trash and debris from Athens area rivers, lakes and streams.

“For Rivers Alive we usually have anywhere between 300 and 450 volunteers, but with this year’s circumstances, we knew things were going to need to be a bit different,” Riker said. “Engage GA really helped us communicate all our COVID-19 guidelines ahead of time and allowed us to register volunteers in small groups in advance in a completely contactless way.”

The ACCA has added 150 new volunteers since the pandemic began, enabling the organization to serve 2,000 clients—almost three times the number served before.

“We have 59 food delivery routes now and [Engage GA] has been so handy for managing that along with our phone buddy and card writing volunteer slots,” Everitt said. “It’s been a really great organization tool.”


WRITER

Émilie Gille Public Service and Outreach Public Relations Coordinator

emilie.gille@uga.edu • 706-583-0964

CONTACT

Josh Podvin OSL Asst. Dir. for Community Partnerships

jhpodvin@uga.edu • 706-542-4511

“Trailblazer in online learning” recognized with PSO Employee Spotlight Award

A routine Zoom meeting was anything but when Dave Lakly, a public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, was surprised with a Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight Award.

PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum announced the award for Lakly, which comes with a framed certificate and a box of assorted treats.

“I just want to thank you for everything you’re doing for PSO and for UGA,” Frum told him and others on his team in the institute’s office of Governmental Training, Education and Development.

In her nomination of Lakly, institute public service associate Tracy Arner called him a “trailblazer in online learning.”

“During the pandemic, Dave has been our technology lead to transition CVIOG programs to online. Within days of the shelter in place order, Dave delivered the first online all day training for our Certified Public Manager program and went on to train other groups in online delivery,” Arner wrote. “So many of us have benefited from his guidance.

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Dave Lakly provides financial management training for state government officials and personnel through the Financial Management Program’s Budget and Financial Management Certification Program, a series of courses designed to offer an overview of the state’s budget and fiscal management cycle. He also coordinates and teaches in the Charter Schools Financial Management Certification Program, with special emphasis on budget and financial policy development.

Before joining the Institute of Government, Lakly served as education division director in the Georgia Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget and as deputy director for the Georgia Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. He earned his BA in journalism and film studies from UGA, and his MPA from Georgia State University.

Lakly is the eighth recipient of the PSO-wide award, established in 2019 as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of employees throughout the year. The Employee Spotlight highlights employees who go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, who produce outstanding work and who contribute significantly to the strategic mission of the division.

UGA builds Little Free Pantries for Athens communities

Residents in two Athens apartment communities have ready access to food and basic personal needs through Little Free Pantries built by UGA’s Office of Service-Learning (OSL).

OSL’s Grow It Know It (GIKI) program built the wooden boxes for the Bethel Homes and Clarke Gardens apartment complexes using money from a Youth Service America grant, which encourages youth and young adults to engage in community service.

The original plan was to launch a Junior Campus Kitchen program at Clarke Central High School, said Wick Prichard, GIKI program coordinator. Campus Kitchen is a student-run organization at UGA that gathers, prepares and delivers meals to food-insecure families in the Athens area.

“But with COVID-19 and the school moving online, that didn’t happen,” Prichard said.

The Little Free Pantry project was a viable alternative, Youth Service America told Prichard.

CCHS junior Mara Smith, who had worked with Prichard on the Junior Campus Kitchen project and knew him from the Grow It Know It program at Clarke Middle School, helped launch the pantry project.

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“I know how it is when you really need help and there is no one there to help you,” Smith said. “I love Grow It Know It; I’ve been with it since sixth grade. They helped me and I’m so grateful to be able to help others now.”

The pantries were built and installed by Smith, Isaac Gay and Graham Gay, Clarke Central students who also had been involved in planning the Junior Campus Kitchen program. Youth in Bethel Homes helped with installation as well. Prichard plans to involve youth in Clarke Gardens when the pantries are installed in that neighborhood.

Community volunteer Hallie Celestand also became involved in the project. Celestand had gotten to know Prichard over the summer through work with Americorps VISTA, Grow It Know It and tending gardens at Clarke and Hilsman middle schools where Prichard runs GIKI, teaching sixth to eighth grade students about agriculture and nutrition. Prichard and the VISTA volunteers provided Celestand with produce from those gardens to give to 300 Bethel Homes and Clarke Gardens residents each week. In addition, chef Hugh Acheson and the staff at Athens 5&10 restaurant prepared meals for Celestand to deliver to the residents.

Prichard learned Celestand had local connections that could make the pantries a reality. Community organizations, UGA student groups and churches are among those being asked to sponsor the Little Free Pantries and keep them stocked.

Smith plans to stay involved too.

“I would like to do more volunteering or work and get more involved,” Smith said. “With [Prichard’s] help, I can keep working on this project and help keep the pantries stocked.”


WRITER

Shannah Montgomery Public Service & Outreach Public Relations Coordinator

smont@uga.edu • 706-542-3638

CONTACT

Wick Prichard GIKI Coordinator

warwickp@uga.edu • 707-623-7459

A different kind of happy meal

No one wants to be in quarantinebut the experience is a whole lot better with Ronald Bernard on kitchen duty. During the pandemic, Bernard has jumped from line cook in the University of Georgia’s Savannah Room to preparing fresh hot meals for students quarantined in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

A veteran of high-volume kitchens for 30 years, Bernard is used to cooking for a wide variety of customers including various luminaries and the football team, but now he’s focused on giving the same high-quality fare (and care) to these students.

“I take care of those kids like VIPs because right now they are my VIPs. I want them to be happy,” said Bernard, noting that his whole team has risen to the challenge during this unusual time. That happiness comes in the form of three freshly prepared meals a day. Every day students choose what they want to order from a wide variety, including the ultimate comfort food: Bernard’s homemade mac and cheese.

Ronald Bernard cooking chicken on a grill

Ronald Bernard cooks chicken on the grill in the kitchen of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Vegans and vegetarians are covered, too, with options at breakfast, lunch and dinner. A crowd favorite is the pulled pork sandwich, which is smoked for 13 to 14 hours in the on-premise smoker, then covered in freshly made barbecue sauce. (To hear Bernard passionately describe the careful preparation of the pulled pork is to want that pulled pork now.)

To keep everyone safe during the process, managers wearing protective masks deliver the food to each student’s door. Managers leave the packaged meals in a bag at the door and knock before stepping away, allowing for a contactless delivery to each student.

Ronald Bernard hands off a to-go container of food

Ronald Bernard (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Bernard grew up in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, immigrating to the U.S. in 1988 and becoming a citizen in 2011. His cooking model when he was growing up was his mother, Monique Edouard. Food is Bernard’s love language, his way of showing love and care. “I work from my heart – it’s been over 30 years and this is what I do,” he said. “If you taste something, I love to see you say, ‘Hey, it’s good! I like it.’ I love to cook and I love to see people happy.”

A father to four adult children – Allan 29, Jade 25, Daphney 20, and Christopher 18, with wife Sophia – Bernard treats the students like extended family. “We make sure everything’s nice because right now these kids are here and even if they live in Georgia, they’re not home.”

He also knows that when parents call their kids, one of their big questions is going to be “What have you been eating?” Bernard wants them to have a reassuring answer.


WRITER

Jill Hamilton


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UGA’s continuing education certifications and credentialing help individuals adapt to a changing workforce

In 2019, pulmonologist Dr. Tim Moriarty closed his clinical practice in Panama City Beach, Florida, after he lost hearing in his left ear. That’s when his daughter suggested he look into a career in medical consulting.

He did, and found the online Medical Professional Legal Consultant course offered through the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

“If you’re a lung doctor and you can’t hear through a stethoscope, you’re not much of a lung doctor. So, that forced some changes,” Moriarty said. “I went through all the universities that offered a course and UGA was the best fit.”

It was Moriarty’s first experience with online learning, but he didn’t stop there.  His experience with the Georgia Center led him to pursue other continuing education opportunities that enhanced his expertise as a medical consultant.

“Continuing education is so important. The day you stop learning is the day you die intellectually,” Moriarty said. “There’s a whole world of interesting things out there. Just go find something you enjoy, get online and find a course.”

Moriarty’s experience is part of a growing trend of continuing education outside of traditional undergraduate and master’s degree programs, which can be prohibitive to people with limited time and resources.

A graph showing the growing number of students attending UGA continuing education classes over the years.
With rapid changes in technology, workforce needs evolve and employees that have been out of school for years find they need additional training and education to stay employed or move up. More portable credentials or badges—such as on-the job training, online or in-person instruction, or other learning outside the traditional education environment—are also increasingly important to individuals in the workforce as they seek advancement.

Both the Georgia Center and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government offer in-person and online continuing education programs to help individuals fill in the gaps, build on their existing skills or developing skills for a new occupation. These affordable courses, certificates and micro-credentials offer competency-based skills and knowledge that are critical to professional growth and development.

Specialized continuing education programs can lead to promotions and career advancement. The Institute of Government offers certifications that require participants to attend multiple sessions. Those, like the Certified Public Manager (CPM) program, help prepare current government employees for different roles and positions.

Of the 44 Fulton County employees who completed the CPM program in 2017, 61 percent were promoted within two years and received a salary increase. Notably, 98 percent of those employees are still employed by Fulton County.

“Thanks for another great experience for all of our [Fulton County] employees,” Fulton County Manager Dick Anderson told institute faculty member Walt McBride earlier this year. “One of the best investments in management development in my career. ”

It was Fulton County that encouraged the Institute of Government to get the CPM started in 2017. Fulton’s human resources director, Kenneth Hermon, had led a similar program in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was anxious to have it available in Georgia. Almost 400 Fulton County employees have completed  the program since it began.

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The Georgia Center also awards digital badges for a number of programs. The digital badges are offered to many certificate programs as well as content-specific programs that are akin to micro-credentialing, said Kiel Norris, director of continuing education at the Georgia Center.

An example is the Principles of Market Research Express courses that allow market research professionals to participate in specific short topic classes relevant to their industry. Upon completion, they are awarded a digital credential that they can use to show proof of their learning and expertise. The goal of these programs is to allow the participant to pick and choose the topics most relevant to their needs and thus create their own credentialing path, Norris said.

Principles of Market Research was the Georgia Center’s first online continuing education course and it has attracted 9,000 participants in more than 109 countries since 1996. The Georgia Center now offers the course in cooperation with Market Research Institute International .

“I’ve been in the market research industry my whole career, spanning over 20 years. [The Georgia Center] is very well-known in the industry,” said Kevin Lyons, a research supervisor in the Boston area who recently took the Georgia Center’s Ethical and Legal Issues in Market Research course. “If you want to keep your skills current in the market research industry, the best place to do that is through the University of Georgia.”

Today online continuing education is more important than ever. Seventy-five percent—604—of the courses offered through the Georgia Center were online in 2019.

In fiscal year 2020, the Institute of Government provided 83 unique online courses to nearly 2,000 participants.

A laptop screen showing a map of Georgia which indicates the location of online continuing education students.Having that experience made it easier to quickly pivot other in-person courses to online once the statewide shelter-in-place mandate was issued in April, said Tracy Arner, a program manager with the Institute of Government.

“The combination of having known how to use the online learning management system, how to do webinars, and having done it for a long time enabled us to really quickly ramp up our classroom training online to meet the needs of our students,” Arner said. “We’re finding our students are very eager to continue pursuing their certifications online.”

Carlos Thomas, a division manager with Fulton County Government, had been taking the Institute of Government’s CPM program in-person for six months when the pandemic hit.

“For our last session we moved to a virtual model due to the pandemic,” Thomas said. “This was my first time with an online course and it went very well.”

Putting programs online also means the educational opportunities are not limited to Georgians. In 2019, the Georgia Center’s online programming was accessed by students in 59 different countries; including Canada, Australia, Vietnam and India; in all 50 U.S. states; and in all 159 Georgia counties.

“With in-person instruction you can only pull in students from a small area because you have the issue of travel,” Norris said. “Online courses offer flexibility to do the course on your own time and from whatever institution you choose, regardless of location.”


WRITER

Émilie Gille PSO Public Relations Coordinator

emilie.gille@uga.edu • 706-583-0964

CONTACT

Kiel Norris Georgia Center Director of Continuing Education

kiel.norris@georgiacenter.uga.edu • 706-542-6663

Tracy Arner Institute of Government Program Manager

tarner@uga.edu • 706-202-8169

Marine educator awarded PSO Spotlight Award for developing virtual programming during the pandemic

Kayla Clark, a public program coordinator and educator at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, is the most recent Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight awardee.

“We are so proud of your work and its impact. Both really embody the spirit of this award,” PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum said in presenting the award at the start of a Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Zoom meeting.

A framed certificate and a box of treats were delivered to Clark, who is based at the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant office on Skidaway Island.

Clark was nominated for the award by Anne Lindsay, associate director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. In her nomination Lindsay cited Clark’s role in researching, creating and implementing virtual activities for the summer, when the UGA Aquarium was closed because of the pandemic.

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“The result of her leadership has provided the public with a series of exciting online explorations that show the world the work of our unit and the impact Public Service and Outreach has on the State,” Lindsay wrote in her nomination.

“Kayla makes us proud to be her colleague each and every day, but especially so over the last several months,” Lindsay wrote. “She sets the bar higher for all of us! Her foundational work now provides us with a springboard for developing and implementing virtual programming through the school year.”

Clark came to UGA in 2015 for a one-year Sea Grant Marine Education Fellowship. She was hired as a public programs coordinator when she completed her fellowship in 2016. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is working on a master’s degree in biology from Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, Ohio.

Clark is the sixth PSO employee to receive the spotlight award since it was launched by the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach in November 2019.

Regions Bank pledges $500,000 to UGA for service-learning, small business aid

Staying true to its vision to be an institution “deeply embedded in its communities,” Regions Bank has pledged $500,000 to the University of Georgia to impact communities around the state of Georgia.

“The educational and economic impacts of the University of Georgia reach throughout the state, the nation and even the world,” said John Turner, President and CEO of Regions Financial Corp. “At Regions Bank, we are proud to be part of these important programs, which will serve as valuable resources for entrepreneurs looking to start or strengthen businesses – and for students who are learning the important qualities needed to serve as tomorrow’s leaders.”

Through Regions Bank’s financial support, the Institute for Leadership Advancement (ILA) in the Terry College of Business will receive $300,000 to endow a fellowship program for service-learning projects across the state. ILA provides unique, values-based leadership training for students in all majors that promotes self-awareness, effective communication, teamwork, innovation and adaptability in a changing global environment.

“The Regions Bank Service-Learning Projects Fund will offer our students new possibilities to put their leadership skills into action and provide valuable community service in creative ways,” said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business. “The University of Georgia is a national leader in experiential learning, and this gift from Regions Bank will make a meaningful difference for our students and the communities where they volunteer and serve.”

In addition to Regions Bank’s contribution to ILA, the company has made a $200,000 commitment to small businesses across Georgia through its gift to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

“Education and economic development are two key priorities for the bank’s community engagement,” said Bill Linginfelter, Metro Atlanta Market Executive for Regions Bank. “Through the Small Business Development Center and the Institute for Leadership Advancement, Regions Bank is providing resources to help create long-term success, not only for students and businesses, but also for the communities they will serve.”

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As part of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach, the SBDC provides tools, training and resources to help small businesses grow and succeed. SBDC programming provides a unique opportunity to support small business owners in the state of Georgia. There are 18 UGA SBDC locations statewide.

“We are grateful for Regions Bank’s generosity in providing this funding, which will help small- business owners in many underserved areas, as well as in our urban communities,” said Jennifer L. Frum, vice president for UGA Public Service and Outreach. “The spirit of this gift is directly in line with our mission as a land-grant and sea-grant institution, and we welcome the community partnership.”

Through the SBDC, Regions Bank will support the Regions Bank Entrepreneurship Academy this fall, which will feature a series of webinars open to the public at no cost. The SBDC and Regions Bank are ideal community partners: two respected organizations that share a commitment to the success of businesses and economic development throughout the state of Georgia.

“Regions Bank is helping the UGA SBDC provide needed information and training to small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs throughout Georgia beyond our ordinary reach,” said Allan Adams, State Director, SBDC. “The better equipped these business owners are to make sound decisions for the growth of their enterprises, the better off local economies will be across the state.”

The University of Georgia is grateful to Regions Bank for their demonstrated commitment to the university, its programs and the state of Georgia.

UGA helps small businesses succeed during pandemic

From Hiawassee to Hahira, Hatcher to Hinesville and points between, UGA has helped thousands of small businesses in Georgia stay afloat during the pandemic.

Consultants in the 17 regional offices of the UGA Small Business Development Center helped 3,309 small businesses secure $88 million in grants and loans through the federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from March through August.

During the same six-month span, UGA SBDC consultants heard from thousands more who were seeking information but not direct assistance in applying for funding. Many tuned in to SDBC-hosted webinars about the CARES Act funding or spoke by phone with an SBDC consultant.

Traffic on the SBDC web site increased by 328 percent as businesses sought information from a web page of COVID-19 resources, created in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Department of Community Affairs at the direction of Gov. Brian Kemp.

CARES Act funding helped businesses continue to cover their payroll and essential costs during the state-mandated shelter-in-place. Others were approved for loans to provide relief for lost revenue.

“We needed the help,” said David Peeler, vice president and CFO of Peerless Manufacturing in southwest Georgia, an area hit hard by COVID-19. “We probably would not have survived had we not gotten it.”

With SBDC assistance, Peeler got a Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loan through the CARES ACT, which enabled him to rehire the 40 employees he’d had to lay off.

“Georgia’s small businesses were hungry for any information about accessing federal assistance,” said UGA SBDC Director Allan Adams. “We made efforts to reach every small business in the state to make them aware of the federal support and our other services.”

“The ones we helped were those most in need of assistance,” Adams said.

Joseph Malbrough’s UPS store in Smyrna was considered an essential business, so he was able to stay open when most others were forced to close. However, foot traffic slowed significantly and Malbrough had to cut the store’s hours.

He applied for loans through the CARES Act, but had no success until he reached out to consultant Antonio Barrios at the UGA SBDC office in Cobb County.

“He was able to help me walk through the process and reach out to the SBA (federal Small Business Administration) to get an update as to whether or not they had my loan package, where it was in the process and what to expect,” Malbrough said. “The funds helped me stabilize and I was able to work with my landlord to get a deferment during that time as well.”

A graphic showing the number of clients and amount of money the UGA SBDC assisted with in North Georgia, Metro Atlanta, and South Georgia.

Nelson Wells also hit a wall when applying for funds until he reached out to the UGA SBDC office in Athens. His company, Team Clermont, promotes musicians and musical releases, so when the clubs and bars closed, so did Wells’ business.

He reached out to the big banks with whom he had previously worked, but found no success. Laura Katz, a consultant in the Athens UGA SBDC office, suggested trying a local bank.

“Sometimes if you go to a local community bank, they have a better of understanding of the needs of their home town businesses,” Katz said.

First American Bank & Trust, with its headquarters in Athens, came through for Wells with enough money for him to cover payroll, utilities and rent for 10 weeks, giving the business time to get its feet back on the ground.

“We would’ve had a very difficult time without it,” Wells said, “I honestly don’t know what we would’ve done.”

Down in St. Marys, Deborah Cottle wasn’t looking for financial help, she just wanted to continue selling during the shelter-in-place. Since her eclectic shop, Cottle & Gunn, already had a significant online following through Facebook and Instagram, SBDC consultant Jordan Tippett suggested she begin selling online as well.

Over the years, Tippett had worked with Cottle on ways to improve the business, from implementing QuickBooks software to keep her bookkeeping in order to helping her navigate the intricacies of buying out her partner and becoming a sole proprietor in 2016.

After pivoting to online sales, Cottle saw her sales double, and then triple during the pandemic. People were buying her wares— reclaimed vintage furniture, housewares, local crafts and more—online and receiving them by mail or picking them up from the store’s front porch.

“Oh my gosh, I recommend the UGA SBDC to everybody,” Cottle said. “I think that people would be crazy if they didn’t utilize the services of the SBDC, because they’re invaluable. Especially with no cost to me, it’s great to have that business mentor that’s there to just bounce things off of sometimes.”


WRITER

Kelly Simmons PSO Dir. of Communications

simmonsk@uga.edu • 706-296-0855

CONTACT

Allan Adams UGA SBDC Director

aadams@georgiasbdc.org • 706-542-2762