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Partnership with UNG Increases Business Success

In 2002, HOMESTAR Financial Corporation started its home mortgage lending business with only seven employees at its headquarters in Gainesville, Georgia. In the 16 years since, HOMESTAR has grown its business exponentially, employing more than 600 people to serve 84 branches in 12 states.

This tremendous growth prompted Steve Lovig, director of human resources with HOMESTAR, to search for a quality training program, because he recognized the importance of project management and the benefits it can provide. Project management is the application of knowledge, tools, and techniques to assign activities to meet a project’s requirements. A successful project will be completed on-time, within budget, and meet established goals.

Lovig found the training program to suit HOMESTAR’s needs through University of North Georgia's (UNG) Office of Professional and Continuing Education (PCE).

“When looking for training we needed a locally based cost-effective program with a curriculum that met HOMESTAR’s standards," Lovig said. "It also needed to accommodate the number of employees who we wanted to train coupled with a flexible schedule. Professional and Continuing Education at UNG delivered on all of these expectations."

PCE’s curriculum is approved by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which is the industry’s nonprofit standards body. PMI is the most significant provider of license and credential services to the project management profession. Courses taken through PCE count toward the project management education hours needed by an individual to qualify to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam with PMI.

Brooke Smith, associate director of Professional and Continuing Education at UNG, worked with Lovig to design a training program to reach HOMESTAR's intended outcomes.

 

"We were able to customize our curriculum to meet the direct needs of HOMESTAR," Smith said. "Our instructors were able to pull in real-life examples that HOMESTAR employees dealt with on a daily basis, making the training relatable and something they could go back to the office and use immediately."

Smith said PCE’s customized approach, coupled with its designation as a Registered Educational Provider with PMI, sets its training apart from others.

"Our main goal is to provide individuals quality, credentialed training that will enhance their current skill set and improve their company.”

Lovig said the training served as the catalyst for HOMESTAR to implement a full-time project management office. It currently has five full-time employees.

"HOMESTAR has experienced huge cultural changes since our training through UNG where project management is becoming a way of life and a driving force on how we operate day to day," he said. "PCE provided us the understanding of what project management is and the importance of implementing it at HOMESTAR. Without quality training from PCE, we might have felt it unimportant to our business success."

According to PMI’s Job Growth Report, the project management-oriented labor force is expected to grow in nine years from 6.7 million to 8.8 million in the United States (pmi.org).

The profession is not only growing in employee figures, but in earnings as well. In 2017, wages of project management-oriented workers were higher on average than wages of non-project-oriented professionals.

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