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University System Breaks Ground for New Information Technology Facility in Oconee County

Atlanta — September 11, 2003

The official groundbreaking of a new, state-of-the-art facility for the University System of Georgia’s Office of Information & Instructional Technology (OIIT) was held today in the University Parkway Office & Technology Park on Daniels Bridge Road in Oconee County.

Thomas C. Meredith, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, delivered opening remarks and presided over the formal groundbreaking of the planned 80,200 square-foot building. Speakers included State Rep. Louise McBee, State Senator Brian Kemp, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair Melvin Davis, and OIIT Vice Chancellor Randall Thursby. “This new OIIT facility represents an important step toward the future,” said Chancellor Meredith, “in terms of both the quality of the new facility and – perhaps even more importantly – the creative private-public partnership model it represents.”

Under a deal brokered last summer, Oconee County officials offered tax and other advantages to lure the Board of Regents to a 5.4-acre parcel of land on Georgia Highway 316. Seen as a “win-win” for all involved, the Board of Regents will lease the building for 20 years, after which it will be owned by the Board. During the lease period, property taxes will be waived. At the same time, the location and function of the facility are expected to spur long-anticipated high-tech development along the 316 Corridor, which has been named “University Parkway.” North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park serves as the vision for this new high-tech corridor.

“The OIIT building represents a tremendous economic development opportunity for Oconee County,” said Melvin Davis, chair of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners. “We hope it will be a catalyst not only for other high-tech and bio-tech industries, but also will foster the development of restaurants, lodging, and a broader support infrastructure that should enhance the project’s success and impact.”

The new building, which will house approximately 165 employees, will be equipped with high-speed Internet access and fiber-optic cable and can accommodate a projected expansion to 220 employees in the next decade. The USG’s Office of Information & Instructional Technology administers the complex computer systems for all 34 of the University System of Georgia’s colleges and universities and plays a vital role in the Board’s goal of “Creating a More Educated Georgia.” Some OIIT responsibilities include helping to deliver online distance learning to Georgians who cannot otherwise take courses on a traditional campus, providing an infrastructure and support for GALILEO (Georgia’s virtual library) and maintaining the complex systems required to keep all 34 campuses current with various software and hardware products.

“Moving to the new facility next June will enhance our staff members’ ability to provide improved service to the 34 campuses we serve and the 233,000 students in the University System,” said Thursby. “This is an exciting and long-awaited project that will enhance the productivity and effectiveness of the System’s OIIT staff, which provides so many technology and instructional services and resources to help our campuses run smoothly.”

The new building is expected to be completed in June 2004, and occupied soon thereafter.

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