Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia has chosen a veteran state government official with extensive experience in community and economic development to fill a new position aimed at using UGA research and outreach to bolster economic growth in Georgia.
Laura J. Meadows, former assistant secretary of state and former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, began work March 1 as associate vice president for economic development. The position was created to link UGA’s resources in research, public service and instruction with state and local government agencies and private efforts to promote economic growth for the state, according Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
Meadows, who was also chief executive officer of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority and the first executive director of the OneGeorgia Authority, has the ideal background for the job, said Mace.
“We are fortunate to attract Laura to this vital position given her vast experience and expertise in economic development,” said Mace. “This coupled with her knowledge of people in leadership roles in Georgia and her understanding of the university and economic development issues, will enable her to quickly develop and implement programs to benefit the University of Georgia and the state.”
Meadows will develop strategies for using UGA’s strengths in such areas as biological and medical sciences, biotechnology, agriculture, business and natural resources to help create jobs and strengthen economies in both rural and urban areas, said Mace. She will work closely with such groups as the Georgia Research Alliance and state Department of Economic Development as well as regional and local officials.
Her work will encompass all aspects of economic development, from identifying opportunities for economic growth to helping formulate and market new economic development initiatives, said Mace.
As assistant secretary of state from 2003 until this year, Meadows was chief operating officer for the secretary of state’s office, overseeing all administrative and regulatory functions. Her duties included licensing more than 800,000 business and health care professionals, registering more
than 400,000 profit and non-profit corporations and enforcing state consumer protection laws including securities and charities.
As commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs she oversaw $950 million annually in financial and technical assistance to help communities with economic development, comprehensive planning, environmental planning, housing and leadership training.
She also served as chief executive officer of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority, which merged into the Department of Community Affairs in 1996, and CEO of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Authority, which became part of DCA in 1998.
Meadows served from 2000-2001 as the first executive director of the OneGeorgia Authority, the program created by the governor and General Assembly to distribute one-third of Georgia’s tobacco settlement funds for economic development purposes.
Meadows has also worked as legislative director of the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation and as state director for rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In the latter job she managed loan and grant programs to finance rural housing, develop community facilities and create rural employment.
Meadows received a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UGA in 1981 and a master’s degree in public administration from Brenau College in 1986. She has served in numerous government and private groups including the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, the Georgia Rural Development Council and the State Workforce Investment Board.
She has also been a member of the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Commission on Asian-American Affairs, the Governor’s Council on Development Disabilities and the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.