Campus News Georgia Impact

UGA outreach programs help Georgia communities grow and prosper

Just Tap'd is one of the downtown Macon businesses that the UGA Small Business Development Center office in Macon was instrumental in launching.

Athens, Ga. — University of Georgia outreach programs had a $753 million impact on the state of Georgia last year, with communities benefiting from leadership training, downtown revitalization, workforce development and assistance to small businesses, among others.

Overall, UGA had a $5.25 billion economic impact on the state last year, according to a new study that analyzed how the three-part teaching, research and service mission of the university contributes to the economy.

“Citizens of this state can see and feel the work that the University of Georgia is doing in their communities, helping to create jobs, develop leaders and address critical issues,” said Jennifer L. Frum, UGA vice president for public service and outreach. “As a land- and sea-grant institution we are committed to extending our resources to every corner of the state.”

In the past year, the Small Business Development Center, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, which has 17 offices around the state, helped create more than 3,300 jobs.

Over the past five years, business owners and entrepreneurs who have sought assistance from the SBDC have created more than 1,600 businesses and over 12,000 jobs.

Among those in Macon are a brewpub and bar that are helping to reinvigorate the blighted downtown. Just Tap’d, with its 65 beers on tap as well as more than 500 by the bottle, and Ocmulgee Brewpub, which serves beer brewed in-house and a dinner menu, are a block apart in the heart of downtown. The SBDC office in Macon helped owner Jeff Kressin acquire funding for the businesses and develop a business plan.

It “has helped redefine the image of downtown,” said Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, whose strategic plan includes revitalizing the business district. “They put out their wrought-iron tables and chairs every morning and by late afternoon, especially on pretty days, people are buzzing around that corner.”

In addition to new businesses and jobs, UGA outreach programs are having other positive impacts in communities throughout the state. For example:

— The Carl Vinson Institute of Government helped the Richmond County School System identify a need in the community for workforce-prepared high school graduates. The system revised its curriculum to include partnerships between local high schools and businesses that allow students to work at a company as part of their school day to learn skills that will help them get a job when they graduate.

— The J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development partners with Girls Inc. of Columbus and Phenix Russell to help teenage girls better understand postsecondary opportunities, financial aid and scholarship availability. Currently, 13 former participants of that program are in college on scholarships.

— Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is helping communities on the Georgia coast qualify for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System, which can significantly lower flood insurance rates for property owners in flood prone areas.

— The Carl Vinson Institute of Government helped the city of Gainesville develop a plan that will increase pedestrian traffic and boost economic development in the downtown business district. The plan calls for high visibility crosswalks and landscaped medians to make it easier and safer for people to walk downtown. It also includes plans for new mixed-use and commercial development.