Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Last Day Wrap-up

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Our last day is bittersweet. As we gather in the lobby, it begins to set in that this is our last day of the tour and that this wonderful journey is coming to an end. 

Our day began with a warm greeting from Malik Watkins, public service associate at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Malik escorts us to the Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission and introduces us to Ellen Harris, director of urban planning and historic preservation; and Bridget Lidy, tourism administrator in the City of Savannah Citizen Office. After a brief overview of Savannah's history, we take a short walking tour of Savannah's historic district.

The city is a wonderful mix of old and new. City planners and preservationists have masterfully woven national chains among local businesses to create a very cozy downtown. Much of this accomplishment can be attributed to "the seven women of Savannah," who began Savannah's historic preservation efforts. The city's effort has resulted in 12 National Register districts and 22 of its original 24 squares. 

Five facts on Savannah: 

  • Founded by James Edward Oglethorpe in 1733, Savannah was the 13th colony and first capitol of Georgia.
  • The squares found in downtown Savannah are a result of the Oglethorpe Plan.
  • Spanish moss does not grow in the trees located in the center of most squares because there is no wind. Wind is required to spread moss to the trees.
  • Savannah is the home of Savannah College of Art and Design and has a very lively arts scene.
  • Street parking issues created problems in Savannah. In response, the city has transitioned to an underground garage system. Built in 2008, Whitaker Street Garage has four levels underground, space for 1,065 vehicles and sits beneath one of the city's most popular squares.

Next stop: Georgia Ports Authority!

Chief Frank Manson of the Georgia Ports Authority Police Department provided a very informative tour of the port of Savannah. The port supports trade in 150 countries, with Asia ranking the highest. This port receives and sends shipments by rail, truck and ship on a continuous basis, and works with the FBI, DEA and other federal agencies. 

The port of Savannah is a major component of Georgia's economic engine connecting Georgia's businesses to the world and creating 7 percent of Georgia's total employment. Efforts are underway to deepen the port to allow larger vessels to pass through, resulting in increased trade and thriving Georgia businesses. Many are surprised that this major effort to deepen the canal with increase its depth by six feet. 

Five fast facts:
  • The Port of Savannah is the 4th largest port in the United States and the largest port on the East Coast.
  • The Port of Savannah creates 295,443 full- and part-time jobs. 
  • In 2010, 1,582,078 containers, equating to 25,059,092 tons, were processed through the Port of Savannah.
  • The three largest exports from the Port of Savannah are kaolin, wood and bio-mass.
  • An average of 9,000 trucks pass through the Port of Savannah every day.
Next stop: Plant Vogtle!

Georgia Power Company Community Development Manager Mike Worley provided our group with a tour of Plant Vogtle. Officially named the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, this site is one of two Georgia Power Company-maintained nuclear facilities. Ownership of the plant is divided among four entities: Georgia Power Company (45.7 percent), Oglethorpe Power Company (30 percent), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7 percent) and the City of Dalton (1.6 percent).

The plant is located on 3,200 acres ideally situated along the Savannah River. The river is vital to the operation of the facility because continuous water flow is required to run the nuclear reactors on the site. There are currently two units in operations with two additional units currently under construction. The newest units are the first new nuclear units in the United States in 30 years.

Our group was given a tour of the control room simulator. This simulator is used to train employees to work in the control facility for the two new units. Each day, these trainees work through various scenarios in preparation for federal certification and licensure required to operate a nuclear plant control facility. 

Five fast facts:
  • Twenty-percent of Georgia's electricity is produced at Plant Vogtle.
  • Each of the two cooling towers circulate 500,000 gallons of water per minute.
  • The movie The Great Escape is based upon the life of Alvin Vogtle (Note: The motorcycle escape was a dramatic addition to the script). 
  • Fifty-percent of Plant Vogtle's current employees will retire within the next five years. 
  • Georgia Power's additional nuclear plant is Plant Hatch, located near Baxley and named for Edwin I. Hatch, who served as president of Georgia Power from 1963 to 1975.

New Faculty Tour: A walk around downtown Savannah

Written by Rosanna Rivero, assistant professor in the College of Environment and Design.

It's 6:00 a.m. Another early rise, tons of coffee and a little boost of energy for our last day of the tour.

Our visit to downtown historic Savannah was hosted by the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The visit stressed the importance of historic preservation, urban planning and design codes and standards to preserve the unique character of our oldest city, founded by General Oglethorpe in 1733.

What makes downtown Savannah so unique is its pattern or configuration of streets, originally envisioned by its founder on the concept of a central open space or plaza surrounded by four blocks of public buildings (called trust lots) and four residential blocks (called tythings). Although this idea may seem to convey our more contemporary sense of a recreational and social space, it's original conception seems to be driven by military defense needs.

Today, 22 of the original 24 squares remain. From our visit, we could see the very distinct character of each of the squares - the more traditional ones with a deep tree canopy and a central monument that is inviting and refreshing, and the new ones which are less vegetated but also popular with tourists and visitors and well connected with the popular City Market.

Overall, this city has a magic of its own. From personal experience, it is worth losing the GPS and getting lost in the wonderful grid of streets and plazas to see what the city is about. As a new faculty in UGA's College of Environment and Design, I definitely look forward to the opportunity for many more visits to Savannah and Coastal Georgia.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New Faculty Tour: The gift of life...stingray life, that is.

Written by Chandler Christoffel, science instruction and reference librarian at the UGA science library. 

Yesterday we went out on some trawlers near the Savannah coast. As we spotted dolphins and enjoyed the charitable breeze, our Marine Extension Service hosts guided us along the river, all the while trawling the river floor for varieties of marine life. Our catch included gar with its intimidating needle-nose and handsome spots, shrimp, several dozen potato sponges, a perturbed-looking puffer fish, whitefish, sea bass, several flat fish, a sponge that smelled of garlic, another sponge reminiscent of a pirate's red beard, and, last but not least, A PREGNANT STINGRAY!

Combing through our bounty, we spied little sting ray tails protruding from the mother's womb. And shortly after our guides moved her from the trawl net to a makeshift aquarium in a plastic bin, mama delivered two baby sting rays of sunshine into the world - one boy and one girl. We, naturally, named them Steve and Jennifer, after our NFT leaders. Proud godparents all, we celebrated with a delicious, buttery low country broil.

New Faculty Tour: Sustainable Living

Written by Tessa Andrews, assistant professor of biological sciences in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

Our first stop on Thursday morning was the Future Farmhouse on the UGA-Tifton campus. The Future Farmhouse is a development and research program, where developers are building a zero-energy house, or a house that will create as much or more energy than it will consume. The primary, and maybe only, source of energy will come from the sun. The roof is covered with thin solar panels and an additional bank of panels will sit in a field near the house. The house is built with three different materials and sensors are embedded in the walls so that the energy waste can be assessed. Sensors have also been deployed around the farm. Researchers will be able to use the data gathered for research purposes, as well as contributing to our knowledge about integrated personal data gathering systems.

Once it is finished, two lucky graduate students will get to live in the house and they will be charged with the responsibility of maintaining the ongoing research projects. The project also extends beyond the house; the group is designing an edible landscape to surround the house. What they learn through this project will be made available more broadly through peer-reviewed publications, cooperative extension and the retailers who have contributed materials and supplies to the project. The project is an excellent example of the function of a land-grant university; it integrates the efforts and expertise of the university with the needs, efforts and knowledge of businesses and citizens of Georgia.

New Faculty Tour: On the Coast

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. 

In one day, we completed the transportation triad: planes, trains and automobiles. Our last visit of the day was Gulfstream in Savannah. First we got a free car from Kia, and then a Gulfstream G650 sticker! We completed our tour of the new G650 facility and needless to say, it was incredible. The original facility was built in 1967 in Savannah through a coordinated effort by the state, local community and the company. In 2006, Gulfstream announced the first of two expansions that had an ultimate impact on the state of 3,200 new jobs and $900 million in investment -- all of which was facilitated again through a partnership between the state, community and manufacturer. This company is clearly a significant part of the economic viability of the coast and also substantially invests in helping improve the local community. The company contributes more than $2 million annually to the Uniter Way, completes numerous community volunteer hours and has developed a Student Leadership Program that currently mentors 600 local high school students. Gulfstream is clearly committed to the company mission, their employees and helping to improve the local community!

Fun facts:

  • General Dynamics is the parent company of Gulfstream Aerospace.
  • General Dynamics is one of the top five defense contractors in the country and employees more than 90,000 people worldwide. 
  • The cost to purchase one of the new G650 business jets is $65 million. 
  • The range of the G650 is 7,000 nautical miles.
  • The facility in Savannah employees approximately 8,700 people.
Our incredible day ended with a wonderful evening on Skidaway Island. We took a ride on UGA Marine Extension Service's SeaDawg, ending right at sunset. We watched the research trawler bring in an amazing variety of marine life and enjoyed a fantastic low country boil.

We can't believe today is our last day together! This has truly been a life-changing week.

New Faculty Tour: Crossing of the Ways

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

After leaving Tifton yesterday, we traveled approximately one hour East to the "crossing of the ways," the city of Waycross. While we were there, we toured two strong economic engines in this area of our state. First, we visited Georgia Bio-Mass, the largest bio-energy plant in the world. We were greeted at the facility by Billy Parrish and Bob Mayhew, a proud graduate of the University of Georgia! The facility represents a $240 million investment in the community. The plant converts pine trees into wood pellets that are burned in coal power plants in Europe. In order to comply with European Union standards, the facility only purchases wood products from sustainably managed forests. They employ 84 workers and facility supports 1,000 trucking and 1,200 logging jobs in the area. Furthermore, they purchase $50 million in wood products annually and produce 750,000 metric tons of wood pellets each year.

Fun facts:

  • There are 24 million acres of renewable pine forests in Georgia.
  • As of 2011, the forestry industry supported more than 46,000 jobs in Georgia. 
  • There is more commercial forest-land in Georgia than any other state in the country. 
  • The facility in Waycross purchases 1.5 tons of wood product annually, representing 52,000 truck-loads of pine trees. 
  • The wood pellets are railed to the Savannah port by CSX railroad and placed into storage until 30,000 tons are accumulated for shipping to Europe. 
Speaking of the CSX railroad...our next stop was the Rice Yard in Waycross, where we were happily greeted by Jake Hunter, assistant terminal superintendent. This immediate point facility processes approximately 2,000 cars each day for distribution out of this central collection point. Jake shared with the group that 80 percent of the railcars they process are leased and CSX is the service provider. Craig Camuso, another UGA graduate, also spoke to the group as we enjoyed an incredible lunch and toured the control tower.

Fun facts:
  • CSX has 6,000 miles of tracks in Georgia alone. 
  • There are two main line operators and 23 short line operators in Georgia.
  • CSX runs in 23 states in the U.S.
  • CSX has 3,000 employees in Georgia, 800 of which are employed at the Rice Yard.
  • CSX annually invests $115 million in Georgia and $2 billion in the U.S.

New Faculty Tour: Got Milk?

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research, and Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. 

Thursday started out bright and early with a visit to the University of Georgia experimental station in Tifton. Our visit to the facility was hosted by Dr. Joe West. This world renowned research facility was established in 1918 on land donated by Captain H.H. Tifton. More than 500 employees representing twenty-two countries work at the station. It is co-located with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and contains more than 2,200 acres of field laboratories.

We had the opportunity to see the progress of the Future Farmstead Project, a residential farm structure and site that will support research focused on sustainability and energy efficiency in farm facilities. We then heard from Dr. Charles Douglas who provided additional information about the experimental station during our visits to the dairy and peanut crop research field. The dairy was an amazing facility financially self-sufficient from milk sales. The dairy industry has an annual economic impact in our state of more than $780 million. One milk cow can produce 100 pounds of milk every day...and there are more than 80,000 milk cows in Georgia! Got Milk? You bet! It was an incredible visit with people passionate about agriculture and the key economic role it plays in our state and country.

Five fun facts:

  • Ninety-five percent of milk production in the United States comes from Holstein cows.
  • Georgia is the top producer in the country for pecans, peanuts and poultry.
  • In 2012, Georgia became the top producing state for blueberries
  • Georgia produces 35 commercial vegetable crops and is third in the country for overall vegetable production. 
  • Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton has an annual enrollment of 3,300 students from eighteen states and 20 foreign countries. 

New Faculty Tour: Gulfstream and International Relations

Written by Tim Quigley, assistant professor in the department of management in the Terry College of Business. Quigley moved to Athens 3 weeks ago from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. 

The New Faculty Tour arrived in Savannah yesterday afternoon for a visit with Gulfstream, a true success story of high-tech economic development in Georgia. The visit included a tour of the G650 production facility and discussions with senior management.

The G650 is Gulfstream's newest business jet capable of flying longer, faster and with more passengers than other business jets. It can travel more than 7,000 miles, allowing it to travel between most global business centers without stopping. 

Jay Neely of Gulfstream highlighted the challenges of transforming the company into a truly international firm. Just 10 or 15 years ago the firm generated 80 percent of their revenue in the United States. Today, it is less than half. The firm has been challenged to transform from a "U.S. firm that sold a bit overseas into a truly global enterprise." The largest source of overseas sales comes from China, a country that had effectively zero general aviation activity a decade ago. For a firm that emphasizes service, especially after the sale, this has required expanding the global footprint of their maintenance and other support operations. Cultural and regulatory differences and a lack of qualified aviation talent create additional challenges.

As sales of the G650 continue to grow, Gulfstream continues to exceed hiring and expansion plans at their Savannah headquarters. They remain particularly proud of the fact that design as well as research and development are located in Georgia.

New Faculty Tour: Back on the bus!

Written by Jackie Guglietta, assistant director of regional programs for the UGA Alumni Association 

Each day of this journey brings new surprises and exceeds all our expectations. Although these memories will stay with me long after this trip, yesterday was one of my favorite days with colleagues that are quickly becoming some of my favorite people.

One of the sayings on this trip has been, "back on the bus!" We have this yelled at us often because we are going from place to place, squeezing in all the fun and information to stay on schedule. With all the excitement, you can't blame us for having small moments of fatigue after interesting programs. Last night, however, there was a higher and more consistent energy among the group. Why were we all so pumped up? It could have been feeding little calfs, going out on the boat or even seeing dolphins swimming...but I think it had something to do with our mascot Uga surprising us as the special guest at Skidaway Island! For some of us, this was our first time meeting him and we were excited to spend some quality time petting him before dinner. This week we have been the type of group that does not let anything get in the way of our meals, but delaying dinner a few minutes to snap a photo with Uga was definitely worth it.

After "Calling the Dawgs" (I am going to need a few more practice rounds!), we enjoyed a delicious low country boil with our new Skidaway Island friends. Shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, banana pudding and more...we were in heaven. Then it was "back on the bus" to the wonderful downtown Savannah for the night.

We are so thankful to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography staff for allowing us to see what they do and for being such amazing hosts. I am looking forward to seeing what our last day has in store for us!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Railways and the Economy

Written by Richard McCline, senior public service associate at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.  

Wow...another great experience for all of us on the New Faculty Tour! Today we visited the CSX terminal in Waycross. Waycross is aptly named due to the nearby intersection of highways I, 23, 82, 38, 15 and 121 - all important east, west, north and south routes.

Although it is tempting to think of railroads as remnants of the past, Georgia could no maintain its leading role as a producer of pine timber, pecans, peanuts or poultry without the rail system. CSX operates more than 2,700 miles of track, handles almost 2 million carloads of products and employees about 3,000 people. 

The view from the control tower at the freight yard is much like you imagine the view from an air traffic tower would be. With the help of some sophisticated IT support, you can see the entire rail yard and traffic. Furthermore, CSX is a community-conscious business; CSX has a large commitment to the United Way and does great work with a youth program started several years ago. 

The visit to CSX helped connect the dots between Kia, the poultry industry, agriculture, overall economic development in Georgia and UGA's key role in the state's economy.

All in all, it was another interesting and very informative stop along the New Faculty Tour.  

New Faculty Tour: The Auto Industry and Economic Development

Written by Mi Geum Chorzepa, assistant professor of civil engineering in UGA's College of Engineering. 

Early Wednesday morning, the New Faculty Tour visited the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) plant in West Point. The tour was arranged by Sean McMillan, director of economic development at UGA. As we drove into the site, I almost felt as though I was sitting in the conference room at the Georgia Power Resource Center. On Tuesday, Tommy Wade, senior civil engineer at Georgia Power, presented GIS-based site design and showed a virtual manufacturing building placed on a potential plot on Google Earth. Driving up, the building looked very similar to the 3D building model.

The tour started with a presentation by Kia employees. During the presentation, we learned that KMMG revitalized the West Point community and provided training and jobs to community residents. We also learned that they are growing in size - manufacturing more than 200,000 cars per year. We then started a guided tour of four assembly units. The first unit we visited was the stamping line, where the manufacturing process begins. Three models are mainly manufactured in this plant: the Sorento, Optima and Santa Fe. The welding shop was the next stop. It was, in my opinion, the most impressive stop. Approximately 300 welding robots put the body panels together, providing 2,200 welds per car.

And it wasn't just the technology that impressed the New Faculty. The safety and assurance programs in place were truly impressive. Moreover, the space was used very efficiently, fully utilizing the overhead compartments. The third stop was the paint shop. This shop cleans, conditions, Eco bathes and primes the metal bodies, and provides the final color coat. As we were walking to the last unit, the testing and quality assurance unit, we saw the cafeteria, fitness center, bank, medical center and learned about Kia's employee wellness programs and benefits. In the testing unit, it was amazing to witness the well-coordinated teamwork and safety and quality assurance programs. Kia's Georgia plant is capable of assembling a car in only one hour. It's hard to believe, but now we can testify to the speed!

It was touching to see the busy manufacturing lines and to be part of this vibrant community. As the nation struggles to find more jobs for its citizens, it is truly impressive that KMMG not only manages to stay in business but also successfully operates a manufacturing plant in the United States. Kia cars are not made until they have already been sold. As a part of the new engineering program at UGA, I realize our engineering students may also be able to provide the infrastructure and workforce that can attract more businesses like KMMG and make positive changes to Georgia cities and communities. Moreover, I strongly believe diverse research programs at UGA will bring more new business initiatives to Georgia. I look forward to visiting the plant again with our students.

New Faculty Tour: Four Stops, Five Facts

Written by Beverly Johnson, public service assistant in governmental services and research at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government

We were on the road at 6:20 yesterday morning with a jam-packed day!

First stop: West Point
Sean McMillan, UGA director of economic development, accompanied us to our first stop, Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia. Sean provided our group with information about the partnership among several state agencies - including QuickStart, Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Power - that was required to bring Kia to Georgia. This was a wonderful example of what can happen when collaboration is put to work.

Our visit began in the Kia training center with a welcome by Kia representatives, followed by a presentation about the company, vehicles and impact Kia has made on the region. The visit continued with an amazing tour of the manufacturing plant. We were able to see the processes used to assemble each of the vehicles the plant produces. What an impressive use of robotics and technology! Kia's workforce is a sterling example of the skills needed to attract today's manufacturing companies to Georgia.

Here's five fast facts about Kia:

  • Located in West Point, GA, Kia is the largest economic development project in recent years.
  • Kia produces 365,000 cars each year at the West Point facility.
  • Kia uses a "just in time" production system, meaning only four hours of inventory is in the plant at any given time.
  • Kia has its own medical facility staffed with physicians and medical staff for employees' benefit. The facility also has its own onsite emergency medical technician team.
  • Every vehicle is sold before Kia builds it.
And at the end of the tour...we each got a car! It was only a model car, but it was a car...and it was free! 

Next stop: Columbus
Our second stop for the day was at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Fort Benning. If you have never been to this attraction, you must put it on your bucket list! The museum walks you through 237 years of infantry history. The state-of-the-art facility is not your typical is a true experience! You can see an IMAX movie, spend time at the shooting range and participate in a virtual Humvee simulation all in one day. 

Here's five facts about Fort Benning and Columbus:
  • Columbus is home to the world's longest urban whitewater course. 
  • Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is the first female mayor of Columbus.
  • Fort Benning provides $110 million in salaries each month, making it a vital component of Columbus' economic engine.
  • Fort Benning is the largest simulation and paratrooper training installment in the world and trains 98,000 soldiers each year.
  • The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center houses a 27-ton tank that is more then 200,000 square feet. 
And last but not least, Americus and Tifton
Archway Professional Maggie Potter provided an excellent tour through Southwest Georgia. She shared the work being done with local communities to expand economic growth and showed us President Jimmy Carter's current home! 

In 2007, Americus suffered an EF-3 tornado. But to see the city today, you would never guess the community had suffered such a horrific experience. One of the greatest rebuild efforts is the new hospital and medical facility. Citizens of this region no longer have to travel to Albany or Columbus to receive medical attention. This is a major accomplishment! 

In Tifton, we attended a reception and dinner held in the beautiful home of former Regent Julie Hunt. Today, we will see UGA's Tifton campus and will travel on to Waycross.

And here's five fast facts about Americus and Tifton:
  • Americus leads the world in cotton production.
  • The historic Windsor Hotel in Americus is one of two historic hotels in Georgia listed on the National Register.
  • UGA's Tifton campus has a Vidalia onion lab.
  • The Archway Partnership in Americus is working on a project to study the feasibility of methane gas production from the local landfill. 
  • Americus was chosen as a City of Excellence by Georgia Magazine in 2000. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New Faculty Tour: West Point to Ft. Benning

Written by Todd Carlisle, business consultant, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center

Today, our tour across Georgia took us to West Point and Fort Benning. In West Point, we learned how local government, economic development professionals, higher education, local landowners and one large company can transform a region and the state. This great change was the establishment of KIA in West Point. In touring the plant, it is evident that KIA is vested in its people, the community and growing in the state. The facility is on the cutting edge of automotive production; KIA employees more than 3,000 people and has a manufacturing capacity of 360,000 automobiles.

In Fort Benning, we were hosted by "The Black Hats" of the Airborne School, the expertise that mold and prepare the elite paratroopers of the Army. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. This is the Warrior's Creed and a perfect testament to the atmosphere we experienced at Fort Benning. On our tour through the base museum, we saw memoribilia from all wars and conflicts in the past 200-plus years all the way through the second Iraq conflict. We also watched the Black Hats take soldiers through training exercises as they progress and strive to be part of the Airborne Creed.

New Faculty Tour: Kia Motors Manufacturing

Written by Darren Hayunga, assistant professor in the department of insurance, legal studies and real estate in the Terry College of Business

Today on the New Faculty Tour we visited the Kia plant in West Point. In addition to the incredible technological achievements, as a real estate professor, I found the initial process of obtaining the land to be remarkable. Thirty-two land owners came together to provide a contiguous parcel on which Kia and their four direct suppliers built their facilities.

Potentially the state could have claimed eminent domain - but the claim is tenuous because the project is not for a highway or traditional public project. There is a case out of Connecticut that went to the Supreme Court in which the local government used eminent domain on a non-traditional project, but this could have certainly started the project off on the proverbial wrong foot. Instead, the landowners created a legacy that has been a tremendous economic benefit for the entire state.

New Faculty Tour: UGA and Economic Prosperity

Written by Mara Register, public service assistant in governmental training, education and development at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

The first full day of the New Faculty Tour was packed with community visits, presentations and collaborations that elevated my pride in my home state of Georgia. The morning began at Jaemor Farms in Alto, GA with an energetic presentation from Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black as he explained the significant contribution agriculture makes to the growing economy of our state. And then, from a vibrant family farm in Northeast Georgia, we traveled to the capital city of the South, Atlanta.

In Atlanta, we had the opportunity to visit the Centergy Center in Midtown for an impressive overview of the facility by key Georgia Power staff. This state-of-the-art economic recruitment center truly serves as the heart of past, present and future business recruitment and retention efforts in Georgia. It was an honor to hear from the new Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Corbin. Numerous times she recognized the important role the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG) plays in ensuring our local Georgia communities are prepared for economic recruitment and prosperity through our leadership training of elected officials and staff.

After lunch, CVIOG's Director Laura Meadows greeted us at the Capitol. Needless to say, I was so proud of Laura's incredible overview of CVIOG and the role we play in leadership training, education and technical assistance. She shared how our efforts help make government work better for the people of Georgia. We then heard from Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Our visit to the Capitol ended with a brief tour of this grand symbol of government and democracy for our state.

Following a visit to the King Memorial site and a visit to the Terry College of Business and UGA Alumni Office in Atlanta, we had a wonderful dinner and networking opportunity with members of the Consular Corps, located in Atlanta. It was truly an impressive evening dining with dignitaries from Canada, France, Haiti, India, Great Britain and South Korea. Visiting with this group was like having a window into the world right at your dinner table.

At the end of this action-packed day, I have a much greater appreciation for the role UGA plays in the economic vitality of our state as it is positioned nationally and globally. I also gained a much greater understanding of our work at CVIOG and the significant role we play every day in our training and educational efforts setting the stage for effective leaders today and in the future.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Faculty Tour: Jaemor Farms

Written by Tim Quigley, assistant professor in the department of management in the Terry College of Business. Quigley moved to Athens 3 weeks ago from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. 

The UGA New Faculty Tour rolled into Jaemor Farms early Tuesday morning for breakfast and discussions with local and state agriculture officials.

Jaemor is a fifth-generation family farm turned tourist destination serving up peaches, apples, berries, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. It was interesting to hear how the younger generation argued for installation of a corn maze. The boost in traffic at the farm helped grow the pumpkin harvest and sales from 5,000 in 2006 to more than 30,000 in 2010.

We heard from Commissioner Gary Black of the Department of Agriculture who highlighted Jaemor's sustainability, noting that they were "green" long before it was trendy. Highlighting Jaemor's 100+ year history, he also noted that sustainability is not just about being organic or environmental but also includes ensuring there's profit from the family farm this year and an opportunity to make a profit in the years to come.

Commissioner Black also highlighted the growing importance of locally grown food as people begin to see a connection between national security, personal security and food security. He believes this will provide growth opportunities for Georgia's farmers.

The visit to Jaemor concluded with a tractor tour of the farm, samples of fresh blackberries and a quick stop in the market before boarding the bus for our next stop.

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Small Business Development Center in Columbus. 

New Faculty Tour: Day 1

Written by Kelly Simmons, UGA public affairs representative 

After a send off by University System Board of Regents Chairman Dink NeSmith at the Georgia Center Monday afternoon, 40 UGA faculty members boarded a bus and traveled to the Hall County Civic Center in Gainesville for the first stop on the 2013 New Faculty Tour.

Following a reception and dinner, the group heard from President Jere Morehead who urged them to remember the land-grant mission of the university and look for ways to serve the state.

"It's done everywhere on campus," he said of public service and outreach, whose vice president is leading the four-day tour. "It's a mission that crosses all disciplinary areas of our campus."

University System Regent Philip Wilheit of Gainesville told the faculty members that UGA has been instrumental in helping Hall County land major manufacturing firms, which offer good salaries and benefits to North Georgia residents. UGA also played a critical role in helping entrepreneurs launch a wine industry in the Georgia mountains. 

“That was a direct result of the relationship between economic development and UGA,” Wilheit said. 

The New Faculty Tour will continue today with visits to Jaemor Farms in Alto and the Centergy Building, Capitol and UGA Alumni Center in Atlanta. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

We're here for you, Georgia

This week, we'll be following UGA's recently reinstated New Faculty Tour. Forty new faculty members will take a five-day trek all around Georgia through 35 counties and nine cities learning all about the state's history, culture and economy. Throughout the week, faculty on the tour will guest blog about what they are learning, giving us a first-hand look at how UGA is impacting the state. The Tour will also show Georgia residents, businesses and government officials: We are here for you.

The tour will officially begin this afternoon on UGA's campus at the UGA Hotel and Conference Center and continue on to Gainesville. Among the businesses the group will visit this week are Jeamor Farms in Alto, the Georgia Power resource center in Atlanta, the Kia plant in West Point, a bioenergy production facility and the CSX rail yard in Waycross, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. in Savannah and Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro. The focus of the visits will be how their work benefits economic development in Georgia.

For more information, follow us on Facebook at UGA Beyond the Arch.

The New Faculty Tour is supported by UGA's Office of the Provost, the UGA Alumni Association and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Q&A: PSO on the Ground in Hart County

Archway Professional Ilka McConnell joined the Archway Partnership in Hart County in 2008. For the past 5 years, she's worked diligently with community members and representatives to help solve some of their most pressing issues. Her experience makes her the perfect person to give us a snapshot of what it's like to be on the ground as an Archway Professional.

What is the process for identifying needs within an Archway community? 
Needs are identified initially through a series of town-hall style meetings where people share their ideas and thoughts. Each community selects several key priority issues on which to focus Archway efforts. In Hart County, the key priorities are education, planning and visioning for the future, tourism development and community leadership development.

What benefits do you feel communities have working alongside the university? What impact have you seen as a result of this?
Both the university and the community benefit from working together. Archway helps connect interested faculty with communities around community-identified issues. Student learning is enhanced through opportunities to apply what they're learning in the classroom in a real-world setting with high-priority community projects and real clients they can interact with and learn from. The community benefits from the ideas and energy from students and faculty. The collaborative nature of Archway helps community leaders address larger issues that span the scope of their organizations by offering a neutral forum and regular meetings to discuss them.

What do you enjoy most about working with students and faculty at UGA?
It's a treat getting to know and work with students and faculty at UGA. Community partners always compliment the creativity, ideas and energy of the students that work with Archway projects. Mentoring students has truly been an honor. Also, UGA has so many dedicated teaching and public service faculty members who are passionate about what they do and willing to share their knowledge with others. It's a privilege to partner and connect them with opportunities to work with communities.

What projects are currently underway in Hart County? 
Several coming to fruition are the development of Hart County Recreation Department's first-ever long-term master plan and the Hart County Quilt Trail, which is focused on attracting visitors by highlighting tourism, agri-tourism and historic locations in Hart County using wooden quilt block signs painted in traditional designs. Another project with the College of Environment and Design has focused on developing designs for a comprehensive downtown signage for Hartwell's art scene and history. We're also partnering with Hart County Cooperative Extension to host a series of regional agri-buisness development workshops.

What is a typical day for an Archway Professional?
There is no typical day! Every day is different, which I really enjoy.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 
There is always something new to learn. My job is to understand the various silos of information, interest and expertise in both our community and at UGA, and how they might work together to address community issues and opportunities. The process is addicting; it takes a lot of patience, but the outcomes are very worthwhile.

To learn more about the Archway Partnership, visit