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Successful USG Health Professionals Initiative Expands Program

Atlanta — December 5, 2003

University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith today announced the expansion of the highly successful, state-funded Health Professionals Initiative launched last year by the USG’s Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP).

Gordon College, in Barnesville, and Augusta State University, in Augusta, will serve as the latest two host institutions for the University System’s public-private partnership program aimed at increasing the number of health professionals needed to fill the high volume of vacant health-care positions that exist throughout the state.

The two new projects call for an investment of $704,413 in state funds over two years via ICAPP, which will be leveraged with $1.2 million in private contributions during that same time period. Both projects will begin classes in January 2004, with the first group of students expected to graduate in December 2004.

The private partners have committed to filling110 positions as a result of the two projects. These jobs will generate $1.194 million in tax revenue over five years.

The University System of Georgia first launched its Health Professionals Initiative in summer 2002, leveraging $2.1 million in state funding with $2.45 million in private funding to create a $4.55 million public/private partnership between Georgia health-care providers and 12 USG institutions. The initiative is aimed at increasing the capacity of health-professional programs over a two-year period to graduate more than 500 additional health professionals. This will ease a critical staffing shortage that has reduced Georgians’ access to quality health-care services.

The model for the initiative is the successful ICAPP Advantage economic-development incentive program, which has netted a 15:1 return on the state’s investment. Participating hospitals and health-care systems commit to providing jobs for fast-track graduates participating in the Health Professionals programs, which were expected to generate a first-year payroll of $8.8 million, an estimated $623,000 in state income taxes and $196,000 in sales tax to the state per year.

“We are very pleased to expand this successful program, because it not only addresses a critical workforce need, but it also has the potential to enhance the quality of health care throughout our state,” Meredith stated.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue praised the ICAPP Health Professionals Initiative for its impact. “Across the nation and throughout Georgia, studies have revealed a shortage among the ranks of nurses and other health-care specialists,” he stated. “I want to thank the private sector, the University System of Georgia, and the Georgia Hospital Association and regional medical facilities for working together on this important project. This is an excellent example of how a public-private partnership can help meet a critical state need.”

The Augusta State University project is expected to have an impact of $864,000 over the initial five-year period of employment, reflected in the total of state payroll taxes paid by program graduates. Local Augusta-area employers, St. Joseph Hospital and University Hospital, are key partners in the public-private initiative, contributing funds for scholarships to students and in-kind contributions to Augusta State.

Upon completion of the program, the anticipated 80 Augusta-area graduates of the programs are expected to earn annual salaries averaging in the mid-thirties.

The Gordon College project is a private-sector partnership with regional employers Spalding Regional Medical Center in Griffin, Ga., and Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga. The project also includes the participation of the state’s Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE). Licensed practical nursing graduates of DTAE’s Griffin Technical College will be among those qualified applicants recruited into the Gordon College program – marking one of the first collaborative ICAPP Advantage projects with a DTAE institution.

As in the Augusta State project, the two employers in the Gordon project will provide funds for student scholarships, as well as in-kind contributions to Gordon College.

The Gordon College program will graduate 30 nurses with average salaries in the mid-thirties. The project is expected to have a local payroll tax impact of $330,000 over the initial five-year period of employment.

In addition to staff from the University System of Georgia, representatives from the Department of Community Health and the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism participated in the review process that identified the two projects selected to receive funding from ICAPP.

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