LEXINGTON, Ky. — The historic land swap between the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government last year has earned UK the honor of being named a finalist in the 2019 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Awards of Excellence.
Higher education institutions across North America submit nominations annually for innovative programs that focus on developing economic prosperity in their communities and beyond. UK is one of 20 finalists from the nominated group of highly impactful and creative programs and initiatives.
The land swap, which involved UK giving the city of Lexington 250 acres in and near the university’s Coldstream Research Campus in exchange for the city turning over control to UK of several important roads in and around campus, was praised locally as an important partnership for economic development in Lexington and increasing safety in the campus area.
“This partnership is providing the opportunity to create progress for everyone, from the safety of our UK students, faculty and staff to the jobs and economic development at Coldstream that are critically important to a thriving community like Lexington,” said UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday. “The recognition of this partnership and its success by UEDA confirms that by working together, innovative programs and collaborations can have lasting and immeasurable benefits for both campuses and communities that are so in inextricably connected.”
The UEDA Awards are designed to validate and promote innovative programs that contribute to economic prosperity, and to encourage their adoption by other institutions and communities.
The six categories for UEDA awards include Innovation; Innovation + Talent; Talent; Talent + Place; Place; and Place + Innovation. UK was a finalist in the Place category, which recognizes the diverse ways in which higher education institutions contribute to the overall aesthetic and quality of life of their communities. Campuses and sites such as research parks are components of place-making, but the focus of this category is on the broader impact throughout the community or region.
The land swap project, submitted for the award with the title “The Economic Development Partnership,” has been described as a win-win for both UK and Lexington.
“Because of the city’s strong partnership with the University of Kentucky, we will have new opportunities for jobs for our citizens, including UK graduates,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said. “The 250 acres the university has made available for economic development in or near Coldstream means Lexington can compete for new employers, and help local employers expand.”
Participants attending UEDA’s Annual Summit Sept. 29–Oct. 2, 2019, in Reno-Tahoe, Nev., will judge the award finalists to select a leading initiative in each of the six categories. Criteria for judging includes replicability, scalability, sustainability, impact and originality.
“In today’s economic development environment, it is critically important for higher education institutions to be more engaged in their regional economies as partners with both government and business entities to lessen the impacts of economic disruptions and develop more resilience,” said Tim Hindes, UEDA executive director. “These finalists are the very top programs from across North America, generating impactful and sustainable results in the regions in which they are engaged.”
For a full list of finalists visit https://universityeda.org/university-economic-development-association-ueda-selects-finalists-for-2019-awards-of-excellence.