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Blue Ridge Campus groundbreaking set for Oct. 17

Blue Ridge Campus groundbreaking preview
A groundbreaking is set for Oct. 17 on a new standalone Blue Ridge Campus for UNG.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is breaking ground this month on a new standalone Blue Ridge Campus on the heels of its exponential growth. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for Oct. 17, with numerous state officials expected to join members of UNG and the community for the occasion.

Among those officials will be Speaker of the House David Ralston, a UNG alumnus who represents Fannin County in the legislature and supported funding for the campus.

The campus has experienced 700 percent growth since its opening in 2015, reaching almost 160 students this fall. Blue Ridge Campus Director Sandy Ott is looking forward to moving into the new space once it opens.

"This is going to be a game-changer for this region," Ott said. "It demonstrates the access mission of UNG and provides students with the opportunity to pursue a college education from one of the state's leading public universities close to home."

Ott said the new campus, which received $5.5 million in the state's fiscal year 2019 budget, will allow for additional courses in the core curriculum. That means students will be able to spend a longer period of their college career at Blue Ridge.

The new campus will have classrooms and labs to allow students to fulfill the requirements for an associate degree, preparing them to transfer to another UNG campus to complete a bachelor's degree. UNG will expand professional and continuing education offerings to the area in the future at the new campus.

Allstate Construction will construct the new campus building, which will be approximately 12,000 square feet. JMA Architects LLC is designing the building plans, and Hawthorne Ventures Blue Ridge LLC is the developer.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Ralston announced funding for the new campus in spring 2018. Funds for the new campus are part of the $26 billion state budget Deal signed in ceremonies in Atlanta, Acworth, Blue Ridge, Statesboro, and Tifton.

"We appreciate and are grateful to the support we have received from the state legislature," UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "We are elated at this opportunity and know the educational impact UNG will have on this region will be felt in Fannin County and throughout this region for generations."

Ott can sense the anticipation building for the campus, which is projected to open in fall 2020 on the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Blue Ridge Campus. The 2015 opening of the campus stemmed from the commitment by UNG, the community, and school systems to expand access to educational opportunities in the region.

"We know that increased educational opportunities have a ripple effect in the lives of students and their families, as well as the community and employers, who will benefit from a strong workforce and economic opportunities," Ott said. "We are excited to grow with this community and be a part of it for generations to come."

Blue Ridge Campus groundbreaking preview
Todd Bermann, UNG director of capital planning and project management, and Charles 'Skipper' Bryant, manager of landscape and grounds for the Blue Ridge and Dahlonega campuses, prepare for the Oct. 17 groundbreaking on a new standalone Blue Ridge Campus.

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