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UGA’s PROPEL program receives top national honors

Rural development initiative recognized as best of the best at national economic development summit

PROPEL, a University of Georgia program, took home the top prize from a national awards competition honoring outstanding economic development initiatives, research and accomplishments.

PROPEL, Planning Rural Opportunities for Prosperity and Economic Leadership, is led by the UGA Institute of Government, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. It was awarded top honors in the Place category at the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Awards of Excellence program in October.

The award recognizes PROPEL’s economic impact on Georgia communities. Place category finalists were judged on the diverse ways in which the institution contributed to making attractive, competitive communities.

Through PROPEL, UGA faculty, staff, and students work with government and business leaders and other key community stakeholders to identify and execute a long-term vision for rural communities’ economic future. It is a collaborative effort of several UGA Public Service and Outreach units, including the Archway Partnership™, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and Small Business Development Center. It also includes the PROPEL Rural Scholars program, an experiential-learning opportunity for undergraduate students interested in rural Georgia to work alongside a PSO mentor and community leaders on PROPEL projects.

“PROPEL plays a key role in helping the University of Georgia create economic prosperity for rural communities across the state,” said Jennifer Frum, vice president for Public Service and Outreach. “We are honored that PROPEL won an UEDA Award of Excellence, and we will continue to develop new ways to put UGA’s resources to work for the state to improve life for Georgians.”

PROPEL was launched in 2022 with help from a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as resources provided by the UGA Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to be recognized by our peers for the impact PROPEL is making across Georgia. But, we’re even more thrilled with the real work happening in economic and community development in rural Georgia,” said Greg Wilson, who leads PROPEL for the UGA Institute of Government. “Through PROPEL, Georgia communities are able to access the expertise at UGA and put it to use building their economies.” 

UEDA brings its members—higher education institutions, private sector businesses and economic development organizations—together to facilitate economic growth and expand economic opportunity in their communities. UEDA Awards of Excellence winners represent the top university-based economic development initiatives in the country, as judged by their peers.

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