UNG names new director of economic development

The University of North Georgia has a new leader of economic and community development at its helm, recently announcing the change in directorship.

Kay Keller, a Watkinsville resident, started in the position Sept. 25, replacing previous director Tate O’Rouke.

Prior to accepting the job, she most recently served as president of the Oconee Chamber of Commerce.

There, she managed the chamber’s operations and played an active role in “new businesses development and regional economic development projects.” Under her leadership, chamber membership grew from 450 to 590 members.

“I’m proud and excited to be part of a university that is an active partner in the economic success of northeast Georgia,” Keller said. “UNG’s growing influence will help develop a workforce that will enhance the quality of life for everyone in the region.”

UNG has more than 19,000 students on five campuses: Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee County.

“UNG is a significant economic engine that generates an annual economic impact of more than $625 million on the communities it serves,” said Kate Maine, chief of staff at UNG. “Further, UNG supports economic development through educational attainment, workforce development and community collaborations that leverage the university’s talent and resources in northeast Georgia, the region and beyond.

“We are pleased to have someone with Kay’s experience and knowledge of the region to lead initiatives focused on economic and community engagement.”

As director, Keller will help direct UNG’s Regional Education and Economic Development (REED) initiative, an “ongoing effort to collaborate with leaders in business, government, community and education from across northeast Georgia to increase educational attainment and advance economic development.”

She received her BBA in marketing from the University of Georgia and serves on the Oconee Industrial Development Authority, Georgia’s Innovation Corridor Joint Development Authority, the Watkinsville Trade and Tourism Association and the Oconee Advisory Board for United Way.