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Vinson Institute begins new fellowship program

Three Georgia cities will enhance their downtown economic development resources this summer through an innovative partnership among the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), and the University of Georgia College of Environment and Design (CED).

The inaugural Downtown Renaissance Fellows program, administered by Institute downtown development specialist Danny Bivins, will provide technical expertise for summer-long revitalization projects in Gainesville, Milledgeville, and Porterdale.

Downtown Renaissance Fellows drawn from CED landscape architecture scholars will complete specific projects for each city during their 10-week fellowship. The three cities that were chosen for this year’s program are covering half the cost of the fellowships; GMA, through its Georgia Cities Foundation, is providing the remaining financial support.

“This is an additional resource that these city leaders don’t have right now because their staff is already fully extended,” Bivins said. “In these economic times, this provides these cities a great bang for the buck.”

Renaissance Fellows benefit by getting the opportunity to work on real-life projects, according to Bivins. “The students get to take theory, apply it, and see how it works, and get immediate feedback,” he said.

All three fellows are entering their fourth year at UGA and start work on May 20 on a variety of projects, including downtown parking, potential grant opportunities from private foundations, and entrance corridors. Kristi Korngold will work with elected and appointed officials in Porterdale, Elizabeth Lawandales will work in Gainesville, and Quynh Pham won a fellowship to work with Milledgeville officials.

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