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Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 9:24am

Upping Augusta's 'Cool Factor'

GHSU President Ricardo Azziz wants his university to have a major impact on Augusta’s economy by 2020.

To do that, he says, the school needs to add 100 research positions.

But many of those recruits are in their late 20s to mid 30s and Azziz says they're looking for a “cool” place to call home.

He says Augusta needs more walkable areas of cultural interest and bike lanes in order to attract and keep those young people.

"Every year we’ll make a major improvement and over 5,6,7 [or] 10 years we’re going to have real results at that point."

Azziz says non-profits and residents could get involved in discussing how to make the changes.

Jacob Hodesh is with Creative Coast, a firm that helps Savannah cultivate a “cooler” public image.

He says the problem could be that there are too many city officials content with Augusta’s singular reputation as home of the Master’s golf tournament.

"There are going to be people who just want to have the Masters once a year and their voices need to be heard too but if the community wants to move into the next generation and stay contemporary then a real dialogue needs to happen and that dialogue needs to be had with intelligent people who are thinking in 5 and 10 year increments."

Hodesh says when powerful community leaders like Azziz start the conversation city officials will eventually have to listen.