Athens, Ga. – President-elect Jere Morehead has announced that he will reorganize the University of Georgia’s economic development activities and programs to make economic development a key priority under his administration.
“One of the pillars of the university’s mission is service to the state, and that includes helping foster growth and prosperity,” Morehead said. “I am convinced the University of Georgia can play an even greater role in economic development, and these changes signal our intention to do so.”
UGA will open a new office in Atlanta to provide a closer link with the business sector and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The Atlanta office also will make the considerable research, public service and outreach resources of the university more accessible for communities, development authorities and Chambers of Commerce.
Margaret Wagner Dahl, who serves as associate provost for economic development as well as director of the Georgia BioBusiness Center, will become associate vice president for economic development, effective July 1. The associate provost position will be eliminated but Dahl will remain director of the GBBC. Dahl has nearly 30 years of experience in the formation of business startups and other areas of economic development and recently co-organized the University System of Georgia conference on economic development.
“This new structure will enhance UGA’s ability to deploy the full breadth of our resources with focus and agility across the state,” Dahl said. “I look forward to being a part of this significant effort initiated by President-elect Morehead.”
The new Atlanta and campus offices will report jointly to Vice President for Research David Lee and Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum. This organization will take full advantage of the scientific, technology commercialization and tech-based business startup assets of the research office as well as the economic development expertise of the university’s outreach arm.
Lee has been the university’s chief research officer since 2005 and during that time has served on the board of the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Foundation and participated in several economic development initiatives. Frum has served for 18 years in UGA public service programs, including as director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Lee and Frum noted that increased collaborations between their units will further UGA’s efforts to serve the needs of the state, including in the area of economic development.
“This reorganization will help mobilize UGA’s research and outreach efforts to support job creation, growth and prosperity,” Frum said. “Being responsive to the changing needs of Georgia is our top priority.”
The reorganization will build upon the many economic development efforts the university currently has in place. The BioBusiness Center has helped launch more than 30 companies that have attracted more than $150 million in investment, and UGA is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the nation for moving research discoveries into the marketplace. UGA also oversees a network of 17 Small Business Development Centers that offer training, consulting, and technical assistance to existing and prospective business owners. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government offers training for development authority board members and works with municipalities across the state on strategic planning with a focus on economic development.
The university also will further the recent success of its Thinc. at UGA Entrepreneurial Week, an initiative of the research office, by hosting other opportunities throughout the year to encourage, inform and advise students and faculty who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. In addition, Thinc. at UGA Entrepreneurial Week will become an annual event.
“Nurturing and assisting those who might have an interest in starting their own companies is an important aspect of the modern land-grant university mission and one that we will pursue vigorously as part of our effort to promote economic development,” Lee said.