The University of Georgia rededicated the newly renovated H. H. Tift Building on the UGA Tifton Campus Sept. 27.
Renovation of the historic Tift Building — the campus’s first structure — was completed in May and funded by $5 million in state support. The facility houses the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics as well as administrative offices. The renovated building also contains modern classroom space to provide faculty and students with the latest in learning technology.
Speakers at the rededication ceremony included UGA President Jere W. Morehead, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Sam Pardue and UGA student and biological sciences major Lolita Muñoz.
Morehead emphasized the important link between UGA Tifton and the surrounding communities.
“Today, we celebrate more than the renovation of the historic Tift Building,” Morehead said. “We celebrate the unwavering and longstanding bond between UGA Tifton and the many communities it proudly serves all across South Georgia. Indeed, the strengths and opportunities of this area of the state and the mission of this campus are perfectly aligned.”
The Tift Building complements the campus’s vital research enterprise, which is recognized worldwide for scientific discoveries related to agricultural commodities such as cotton, peanuts, pecans, turf grass and vegetables.
“We are a campus that thrives on research and providing an academic home for our future agricultural leaders,” said UGA Tifton Assistant Dean Joe West. “This is an important day in our history. President Morehead’s presence, along with other administrative leaders, emphasizes the significance not only of the Tift Building but also of our entire campus.”
Following the ceremony, Morehead met with students in the Tift Building to hear about their academic experiences on campus. He also met with state and local officials from the area. Morehead, Pardue and other members of the UGA senior adminis tration, including Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum and Vice President of Government Relations Griff Doyle, then traveled to the Tift County Cooperative Extension office to visit with UGA employees there.
The Tift County Cooperative Extension office serves as an important bridge between the resources of the university and the needs and interests of the community — especially in regard to agriculture. Pardue underscored the critical role of UGA Extension in promoting economic development in the state and beyond.
“UGA’s academic, research and extension experts in Tifton deliver advanced education, cutting-edge science, improved agricultural production methods and knowledge of the latest crop varieties, market developments and business practices,” Pardue said. “Their dedicated efforts help to create a vibrant and robust economic engine that sustains not only this corner of the state, but provides food and fiber for Georgia and the world.”
The group of senior administrators concluded their tour of the Tifton area with a visit to Carroll’s Sausage and Meats in Ashburn. The local business has grown from 18 to 40 employees in five years, thanks to assistance from the UGA Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
The SBDC helped owner Hugh Hardy Jr. develop a business plan and loan proposal, secure financing options and renovate a facility into a large retail store off Interstate 75. The SBDC also helped Carroll’s Sausage and Meats secure a loan to open a Thomaston store in 2014 and continues to work with the business on strategic planning and marketing.
“The Small Business Development Center at the University of Georgia is helping hundreds of small business owners grow their companies, as well as helping entrepreneurs launch new businesses,” Frum said. “The economic impact of the work of the SBDC is felt throughout the state in the number of new companies and jobs created every year.”
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)