In 2005, Colquitt County was experiencing growing pains.
Sanderson Farms had announced plans to build a chicken processing plant in the south Georgia community, bringing 1,400 jobs to the area. While the new plant was welcome, it presented challenges. The county had limited sewer capacity, few housing options and no round-the-clock child care, a necessity for parents working overnight shifts.
At the same time, faculty in the University of Georgia’s Public Service and Outreach office and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences were discussing a new program designed to link the resources of the university to the economic development needs of the state. The program would be similar to the Cooperative Extension model, with UGA employees stationed in Georgia communities to help address economic development issues.
The new program was named the Archway Partnership, and Colquitt County proved to be the ideal place for a pilot. An Archway Partnership professional was hired to live in Colquitt County and began meeting with local residents to help them reach consensus on their priorities and address the most critical issues.
Over the next few years, a steady stream of UGA faculty and students flowed through Colquitt County.
“Before Archway, when a community issue or opportunity came up we didn’t necessarily think about how could UGA help us. Since Archway, a lot of times that’s one of the first thoughts we have,” said Roy Reeves, chair of the Colquitt County Archway Partnership.
Seeing that need in Moultrie developed into what we now know as the Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach dedicated to enhancing the University of Georgia’s land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service while addressing self-identified community issues in geographically dispersed locations across the State of Georgia.
The Archway Partnership empowers communities to address long-standing and critical self-identified community and economic development needs. Archway Partnership communities have addressed issues related to economic development, education, workforce development, leadership, health and welfare, overall quality of life, and more.
The Archway Partnership is active in eight communities at one time and has now served 13 Georgia communities.
The key to the success of the Archway Partnership is the direct link that it provides for faculty and students to be active in addressing serious issues in communities across the state. Collaborative projects have utilized resources from each of the eight diverse UGA Public Service and Outreach units, including the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, and Small Business Development Center, and faculty and students from all 18 University of Georgia Colleges and Schools. The Archway Partnership has also connected communities with 14 of the 28 University System of Georgia institutions, 11 of the 22 technical colleges, and four private universities. Since 2005, over 1,200 students, more than 200 faculty members, and hundreds of community leaders have participated in projects in Archway communities.