MOULTRIE — University of Georgia Provost Arnett Mace Jr. accompanied by university department heads visited Colquitt County Wednesday to review the impact of the university’s outreach pilot project, the Archway Partnership Project.

At a review meeting with the project’s local steering and executive committees, Vice President for Public Service Art Dunning said the vision of the pilot project — as seen by him and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Mel Garber — was to build a larger pipeline of service and expertise from UGA to Colquitt County. Based on the statements made during the meeting, the university’s review of the pilot project appeared favorable.

The right people came together at the right time, said Mace. Development Authority Chairman Jimmy Jeter agreed, calling the timing of the pilot a “perfect storm.” It came to Colquitt County right after the ball of significant change began to roll and, local officials said, has channeled it in a controlled, progressive direction. In terms of dollars, it already has had a multi-million dollar positive impact on the community, Jeter said.

Local officials as well as university staff had nothing but praise for the Archway liaison Dennis Epps, who in the project’s first year has readily become entrenched in nearly every community project going. Mace commended community leadership for working “hand in glove” with Epps to make the pilot a success.

Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority Executive Director Darrell Moore summed up the project’s impact on the county, noting that Archway is now involved in 80 percent of the development authority’s projects.

“Having the Archway program in Colquitt County has opened up resources that may have been available before, but we just weren’t aware of them,” Moore said.

Mace said before the pilot project, the land grant university had failed to adequately share its wealth of experience. When UGA is mentioned, education first comes to mind, not service or research, he said, but the Archway project is a step towards that evolution of thought.

“I never forget for a day who I work for and who the University of Georgia works for and that is for the people of the State of Georgia,” Mace said.

Local officials’ only complaint of the pilot was that it runs for only two years. Mace agreed that the university’s service to Colquitt County is far from over, and noted the reciprocal benefit of this pilot.

“We view this as part of our campus. ... I hope each of you believe that our presence here has added much to your decision-making or to the future direction of this city and of this county, but let me say that also the University of Georgia benefits through all of this,” Mace said.

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