The Taste of Success

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Pike County High School STEM interns made and served samples of mini cheesecakes topped with Georgia-grown blueberries and pecans during the building tour following the dedication of UGA’s Food Technology Center.

Food products and processing are big business in Georgia, and our new Food Technology Center will help deepen this institution’s economic impact on our state and nation.

Located on our Griffin Campus, the state-of-the-art Food Technology Center houses UGA’s Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center, more commonly known as FoodPIC. The center’s faculty and staff are committed to helping entrepreneurs scale up their ideas by offering expertise that ranges from product development to packaging, food safety and marketing.

The $7.4 million Food Technology Center was made possible through a collaborative effort that included funding from the state of Georgia, U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority and the University. The turnout for last week’s dedication ceremony underscored the enthusiasm surrounding the Food Technology Center, with speakers including Board of Regents Chairman Dr. C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., state Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Chairman of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority Board Charles Copeland, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue, and President Morehead.

Data from the Georgia Department of Economic Development show that more 225 food processing companies opened or expanded operations in Georgia in the past decade, investing more than $2.6 billion in our state. Georgia’s thriving agricultural industry plays a critical role in the success of food processing here, as do the state’s strengths in logistics and infrastructure.  Students from our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, our College of Engineering and other units graduate with advanced knowledge and skills that prepare them for careers in all facets of the food processing industry, and faculty members in units such as our Center for Food Safety work closely with industry partners.

The FoodPIC is an outstanding example of the University’s role in fostering economic vitality in our state. It focuses primarily on Georgia food companies and commodities—such as peaches, peanuts and blueberries—but it also plays an important role in attracting out-of-state businesses and industry to Georgia.

A recent study found that UGA’s teaching, research and service missions have a $5.25 billion annual economic impact on our state. The faculty, staff and students in the FoodPIC are committed to taking that figure to an even higher level.