EDA University Center

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center supports outreach activities that seek to promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, and business expansion in innovation clusters. It also supports the creation and fostering of regional economic ecosystems Georgia and other states within the EDA Atlanta region (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee).

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center, an offering of Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its EDA University Center program.

The GT EDAUC has two primary focus areas:

  • Innovation-led ecosystem support for universities and communities
  • Strategic economic development support for distressed communities.

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center leverages its expertise and resources to meet those primary objectives. Key research services provided in support of those core focus areas include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Forecasting
  • Feasibility studies
  • Readiness assessments
  • Economic impact analysis
  • Labor market studies

Project In Focus
Strategic Assessment for the City of Woodbury, Georgia 

In the Spring of 2020, the Georgia Tech EDA University Center team conducted a Strategic Assessment for the City of Woodbury, located in rural Meriwether County, Georgia. This assessment identified strategic priorities for the local government to use as a roadmap to pursue their economic development and downtown revitalization goals. The city of Woodbury used this plan to apply for and receive the Georgia Rural Zone designation through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). This five-year designation allows Woodbury to offer tax incentives for job creation, commercial investment, and other business activities.

For a community to be eligible to apply for the Rural Zone program, it must have a strategic plan designed to assist public and private investment. The Strategic Assessment consisted of three fundamental tasks:

  • interviews and meetings with local and regional stakeholders,
  • formulation of recommendations based on research and community feedback mechanisms, and
  • creation of an economic development action plan for the City of Woodbury to address during their Rural Zone designation period, and beyond.

The Strategic Assessment took three months to complete and was conducted almost 100 percent virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic – including public meetings and regular project meetings with the client.

Milestones
Since the Georgia Tech EDA University Center’s work in Woodbury, the city has added several new businesses to their historic downtown, established a Historic Preservation Commission and joined the Georgia Main Street “Startup” program. The city of Woodbury received the 2021 Visionary City Award from the Georgia Municipal Association and Georgia Trend Magazine. Former Mayor Steve Ledbetter credits much of the recent success of the city to the work done by the Georgia Tech EDA University Center team.

Other Updates:

  • Rural Zone Designation (2021 – 2025)
  • Downtown Master Plan (TSW)
  • Four new businesses added to downtown (Switch & Grind, Paparella’s Pizzeria, a general store (name pending), and another antique store).
  • Completing the Certified Local Government application with plans to submit March 15th in support of the Historic Preservation Commission
  • Contracted with consultant to update Capital Improvement Element, Strategic Plan, and Comprehensive Plan in support of incorporating an Impact Fee.
  • Received the 2021 GMA/Georgia Trend Magazine “Visionary City Award.”
  • Recertified as a Broadband Ready Community
  • Accepted into the Georgia Main Street Start Up Program
  • Joined the Main Street America Program
  • Took in 10% more in Sales Tax Revenue than budgeted.
  • Completed 2020 without taking a Tax Anticipation Loan
  • Added a manufacturing company inside the City (East Point Equipment)
  • Added a veterinarian surgeon inside the City (Woodbury Veterinarian Clinic)
  • A new house (in fill development) is being built directly beside City Hall (first new construction in several years)
  • There is now significant interest in building houses.
  • There is significant interest in converting our 2-story buildings into loft apartments.

Old City Hall and the Old Police Department properties are having their interiors returned to their original state. They will be sold within the next few months and re-purposed for use.