Campus News

UGA Tifton to host workforce development conference

The Agricultural Research Building on UGA's Tifton campus. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski)

Employers, educators and workforce development professionals will gain new ideas for enhancing workforce initiatives at the University of Georgia’s inaugural Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conference.

The conference will be held Aug. 22 at the UGA Tifton campus. Hosted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit, the event kicks off with registration and networking at 8 a.m. Conference sessions begin at 9 a.m. and run through 3:30 p.m. Registration is underway at

Tifton’s Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline features a program to help workforce professionals learn more about opportunities and challenges in rural Georgia and explore effective solutions, including the benefits of experiential learning and successful ways of building talent for small businesses. Speakers and breakout sessions will cover promising practices and emerging ideas for strengthening Georgia’s approach to talent development.

The keynote speakers, Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development chief innovation officer, and Connie Reimers-Hild, founder of the consulting and coaching firm Wild Innovation, were selected for their expertise in working with rural communities.

Reimers-Hild has served as the chief futurist at the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute and is an expert in applying future-focused leadership and strategic foresight to workforce development issues. Ponti-Lazaruk leads the USDA Rural Development Innovation Office, which applies best practices and improved program delivery to enhance the quality of life in rural communities.

Breakout sessions will explore successful ways to build talent for small businesses and how to create an effective experiential learning program. In addition, a panel of experienced local leaders will share their knowledge about connecting people and organizations to build effective workforce pipelines.

The Institute of Government recognizes the importance of workforce development to Georgia’s economy and works closely with public and private organizations to help them develop effective workforce programs, said Laura Meadows, director of the Vinson Institute.

“Workforce development is a top issue cited by economic development professionals, business leaders and government officials in creating and retaining jobs. We’re working throughout Georgia to help communities build their talent pipeline,” Meadows said.

The Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conference draws on the Institute of Government’s wide range of services to equip attendees with successful, effective tools to help them reach their workforce development goals, according to institute faculty member Greg Wilson, conference convener.

“We’ve designed this conference to share new ideas for rural workforce development programs. Successful workforce development efforts require teamwork, and this will introduce people to new partners and new solutions that really help build their workforce program,” Wilson said.

The Tifton conference is one of two Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conferences the Institute of Government will present this year. A second conference, the Metro Atlanta Innovating Georgia’s Workforce Pipeline Conference, will be held Sept. 26 at UGA Gwinnett.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit that provides training, technical assistance and applied research to help state and local governments operate more effectively and deliver improved service to the public.