Georgia Institute of Technology Collaborates with Morehouse College and PRENEURology Global to Boost Minority Innovation in Metro Areas

Initiative is part of a federal push to strengthen entrepreneurship, growth, and sustainability for minority business owners across the Southeast.

 

The Georgia Institute of Technology has partnered with Morehouse College and PRENEURology Global to launch the Southeast Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Growth Hub to serve entrepreneurs and innovators in eight southeastern states.

 

The two-year pilot is funded by a $1.4 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA to establish a collaborative support network for minority entrepreneurs in the Hub, which, along with Georgia, includes Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

 

The Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub will be a valuable resource for programs serving minority business enterprises (MBEs). As a pilot effort, it could serve as a model yielding sustainable economic wealth for minority entrepreneurs in other regions of the country. (For more information about the Hub, please visit: businessgrowthhub.gatech.edu.)

 

Led by the Atlanta MBDA Centers at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub will operate virtually and in-person as a regional, blended network of entrepreneur spaces, education pathways, and engagement programs. The Hub will also serve as an access point to corporations, financing, and other government programs. This cohesive, blended network will foster MBE participation in ecosystems. It is designed to overcome the limited participation of minorities in local innovation ecosystems while giving them access to a broader regional network of connections, experiences, and expertise in the eight-state region.

 

The Hub will operate as a collective partnership of the Atlanta MBDA Centers, Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the Morehouse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC), and PRENEURology Global.

 

Donna Ennis Headshot

Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., is EI2’s director of diversity engagement and program development.

“The goal of the Hub is to connect the ecosystems throughout the Southeast in a way that will provide greater access for all MBEs and entrepreneurs regardless of the stage of their business,” said Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F, EI2 director of diversity engagement and program development and the Atlanta MBDA Centers. “We realized while there are highly effective ecosystems throughout the Southeast, minority entrepreneurs often struggle with making viable, long-term connections to enable the acceleration of their products and services to the market.”

 

ATDC, Georgia Tech’s statewide technology incubator, will host the MBDA@ATDC to attract technology startups and innovators with diverse backgrounds to the program. “The Hub is designed to enhance the reach of services available to entrepreneurs of color by connecting nodes or services like ours together in a more dynamic way through broader regional connections,” said John Avery, ATDC director. “This gives us an opportunity to enhance ATDC’s presence in communities of color while bringing our access to resources and expertise.”

 

The Morehouse Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC) at Morehouse College will help the Hub identify minority-serving institutions (MSIs) — Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions of higher education with predominantly Latino or other minority populations — that have programs and resources aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and building wealth for people of color. “We will form a Southeast cluster of MSI innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems to connect and stimulate the growth of each MSI, said Tiffany Bussey, DBA, executive director of the MIEC. “This partnership will further help us accelerate entrepreneurship among students and faculty at MSIs.”

 

PRENEURology Global will establish the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Pathways for new relationships within and among MBEs, collective workspaces (traditional and non-traditional hubs), state, regional, and local governments, corporate partners, financing resources, and accelerators/incubators. This approach will create an integrated network of resources to help MBEs grow and scale their businesses. “We’re seeing a lot of business activity in these ecosystems but there is lack of connectivity,” said Le’Kiesha French, CEO of PRENEURology Global, “Our goal is to create more efficiency by eliminating barriers of access to opportunities and resources within the Southeast region for Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) business entrepreneurs so they can experience equitable pathways to starting and growing their businesses.”

 

About the Atlanta MBDA Centers
As part of a national network of over 40 centers and special projects, the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers help MBEs access capital, increase profitability, and scale their businesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, the Atlanta MBDA Centers are part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. To learn more, visit mbdabusinesscenter-atlanta.org.

 

About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
The Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech is a startup incubator that helps technology entrepreneurs in Georgia launch and grow successful companies. ATDC is one of the oldest and most successful research university-affiliated incubators in the United States and was named by Forbes as one of the “Top 12 Business Incubators Changing the World.” Founded in 1980, ATDC has fostered innovation and economic development by graduating more than 150 companies, which together have raised over $2 billion in outside financing. To learn more about ATDC, visit atdc.org.

 

About Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (MIEC)
MIEC is a global model for higher education and industry collaborations to foster innovation and entrepreneurial leadership by promoting local and regional economic growth and development with people of color on and off-campus. The Center was established as a unit of Morehouse College in 2004 and has secured grants and contracts worth more than $20 million, impacted over 2,100 students, partnered with more than 17 large mentoring corporations, and assisted over 120 technology growth companies nationwide. The MIEC also serves as the lead institution in the JP Morgan Chase Small Business Forward Ascend Atlanta program, where it has accelerated 80+ minority tech startups over the past three years and helped them raise more than $5.5 million in funding. Visitmcecenter.com for more details.

 

About PRENEURology Global
As a Social Enterprise serving entrepreneurs around the world, PRENEURology Global has worked with organizations, educational institutions, corporations, and government agencies across the globe for more than 15 years, to support emerging innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems through a human-centered approach. With its team of bilingual professionals (English and Spanish), PRENEURology revolutionizes mindsets within communities at risk by empowering people with tools for innovation and economic growth. For more information, visit preneurology.org.

Donna Ennis Named EI2 Director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development

Donna Ennis Headshot

Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., is EI2‘s director of diversity engagement and program development.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the Georgia Institute of Technology’s chief economic development and growth arm, has named Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., director of diversity engagement and program development.

 

In this new role, Ennis will lead efforts to find funding and program opportunities, particularly those with a focus on underrepresented and underserved communities and organizations. As part of her responsibilities, Ennis will ensure that diversity and inclusion are part of each EI2 program’s mission.

 

Ennis, who also serves as director of the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business and Advanced Manufacturing centers, has been with Georgia Tech since 1992. Under her leadership, the two centers have assisted client companies secure more than $3.5 billion in contracts, financing, and sales and create or save more than 6,000 jobs.

 

“I’m really encouraged and pleased with the development of this new role,” Ennis said. “It signals that Georgia Tech is committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are  central to its mission and that of the Enterprise Innovation Institute.”

 

Comprised of 11 programs, including the two Atlanta MBDA centers, EI2 is the oldest, largest, and most diverse university-based economic development and economic growth organization. With a history that spans more than 60 years, EI2 has expanded to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes in Georgia and beyond.

 

EI2’s client portfolio includes pre-company, technology-focused entrepreneurs, startups, and existing businesses, as well as communities, governments, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

 

“We have a wide variety of clients and focus areas from manufacturers and startups, to universities and minority-owned firms to municipal governments. Diversity and inclusion efforts need to be an integral part of our outreach, not only in terms of the types of clients we serve, but also in leveraging EI2’s resources toward bringing more diverse business relationships to Georgia Tech as a whole,” said David Bridges, EI2 interim vice president. “This furthers our overall economic development mission and mandate to serve all of Georgia and ensures we are reaching out to all of its communities.”

 

For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA recently awarded EI2 a grant to launch the Southeast MBDA Inner City Innovation Hub. This initiative includes the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), the EI2 program that serves as the state of Georgia’s technology incubator. “With ATDC serving as one of the major partners in the Hub, we now have two ATDC startup catalysts who are focused on ensuring that the minority business community is more engaged in ATDC,” Ennis said.

 

She stressed the diversity and inclusion discussion is broader than race and gender. “It’s inclusive of people from rural Georgia, veterans, older citizens, the disabled, and members of the LGBT community, among others,” she said. It’s developing a culture where everyone is not only included but more importantly, are welcomed and feel like they belong.”

 

One of Ennis’ current projects is participating in Tech’s Diversity and Inclusion in Procurement Working Group. “Initiatives like these are examples of the commitment Georgia Tech has made to diversity and inclusion in all areas of the Institute,” Ennis said.

 

“As a leading higher education research institute, Georgia Tech has ensured that diversity and inclusion are part of it strategic mission. And as an employee who has seen Georgia Tech evolve in many ways over my 30-year career here, I must admit that it’s a really exciting time.”

Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future

Malaika Rivers (left) is a partner with Lexicon Strategies. Debra Lam is managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. They are co-authors of a report on CIDs called “Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future.”

A comprehensive report by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Lexicon Strategies shows CIDs are an important economic growth tool.

 

Community Improvement Districts, or CIDs, are best known for being mechanisms commercial property owners and local governments use to beautify streetscapes or support infrastructure projects.

 

But a new, comprehensive analysis of their use in Georgia finds CIDs have had significant impact in leveraging dollars and driving growth. The report was produced by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program and its Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, in partnership with Lexicon Strategies. [Read the full report here: cidreport.com]

 

Since the 1980s CIDs have become a competitive necessity in the growth of commercial centers and submarkets, the report’s authors said.

 

“CIDs are now driving major infrastructure projects and providing community enhancements that are traditionally the purview of local government,” said Malaika Rivers, a partner at Lexicon Strategies, and a co-author of the report. “But because CIDs are so effective at attracting additional resources, the commercial real estate owners and investors get more effective ways to manage and deliver projects and services important to their businesses.”

 

This report, which analyzed CID usage in metro Atlanta, marks the first time they have been evaluated for economic impact and ability to drive innovation. It also establishes a framework for comparing CIDs, a previously difficult task due to significant differences across the metro region.

 

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Between 2005 and 2020, the number of CIDs in Georgia doubled to 34, with the most common driver being to attract funding and investment.
  • On average, every $1 spent by a CID generated $5 in outside funding.
  • Collectively, CIDs represented more than $16 billion in assessed value in 2019 and about $41 billion in fair market value.
  • CIDs are growing; about 89 percent of Georgia’s CIDs report plans to expand project and service offerings.
  • The public sector is playing a larger role in CID formation, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the ones created between 2010 and 2020.

“Our findings show that Community Improvement Districts are not only crucial for traditional infrastructure, but also to the advancement of smart cities applications on future infrastructure,” said Debra Lam, co-author and director of the Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation (SCI2) program at Georgia Tech. SCI2’s mission is to develop innovative approaches to help build resilient and sustainable communities. It is an offering of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private collaborative effort that launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the technology capital of the East Coast.

 

With nearly three dozen CIDs currently in operation in metro Atlanta, Lam said they lay the foundation for a thriving environment that supports a host of CID organizational models in a wide variety of commercial product types, from Class-A office to dense industrial centers.

 

“CIDs are and will continue to be a driving force in innovation,” Lam said.

T-Mobile, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab Team Up to Fuel 5G Innovation in Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, and More

New 5G Connected Future incubator program will support growth and development of 5G entrepreneurs and startups.

 

Outside picture of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

Curiosity Labs at Peachtree Corners is home to the 5G Connected Future incubator that will be managed by Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

The new 5G incubator is located in the city of Peachtree Corners’ 500-acre smart city technology park, a living lab powered by T-Mobile 5G where more than 8,000 people live or work. The facility features a 25,000 square foot Innovation Center and 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track. T-Mobile has deployed its Extended Range 5G and Ultra Capacity 5G network across the park enabling developers to build solutions in a real-world environment. Here developers will build and test new 5G use cases such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, mixed reality training and entertainment, remote medical care, personal health and fitness wearables, and more.

 

“What a match-up! America’s leading 5G network, the brilliant minds of Georgia Tech and the most advanced living lab in the country — now that’s a powerhouse combination,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “We cannot wait to see the innovation that occurs as entrepreneurs and developers build the next big thing in 5G backed by these world-class resources.”

 

Hedshot of ATDC Director John Avery

John Avery is director of ATDC.

The new incubator, managed in collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), is an expansion of the T-Mobile Accelerator and part of the Un-carrier’s efforts to fuel 5G innovation. T-Mobile supports numerous initiatives to help startups and entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market groundbreaking new 5G products and services. T-Mobile Accelerator is an award-winning program founded in 2014 that originated in the smart city corridor of Kansas City.

Companies participating in the 5G Connected Future program will work directly with technology and business leaders at T-Mobile Accelerator, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab as they build, test and bring to market new products and services that unleash the potential of T-Mobile 5G. ATDC is a globally recognized technology incubator. The 5G Connected Future vertical is the fourth of its kind at ATDC and follows other targeted programs in health, retail and financial technologies.

 

“In addition to the normal startup concerns, entrepreneurs in the 5G space face a unique set of challenges such as regulatory issues at the state and local levels, network security, and integration testing,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

 

Betsy Plattenburg

Betsy Plattenberg is executive director of Curiosity Lab.

ATDC brings a unique framework that combines its startup curriculum, coaching, connections, and community, as well as direct access to Georgia Tech resources, research expertise, and student talent, to help entrepreneurs learn, launch, scale, and succeed. In this effort, ATDC will offer programing, recruit and evaluate startups, and hire staff to manage the vertical in Peachtree Corners.

 

“This collaboration is a great opportunity for ATDC and Georgia Tech, the city of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab, and T-Mobile, a Fortune 50 company, to create a unique collection to work with these companies, refine their ideas into scalable companies, and bring these solutions to market more quickly,” Avery said.

 

Such a partnership underscores “Georgia Tech’s commitment to enabling tomorrow’s technology leaders, which remains as strong as when ATDC was founded 41 years ago,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Innovation cannot take place in a vacuum, which is why entrepreneurs and startups require the knowledge and resources provided through partnerships such as ours.”

 

“The City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab continue to affirm our commitment to technology innovation through programs, partnerships and engagements with industry leaders such as T-Mobile and Georgia Tech,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab. “These two organizations were instrumental in the launch of Curiosity Lab and our continued collaboration will create opportunities for the next-generation of intelligent mobility and smart city entrepreneurs.”

 

T-Mobile 5G, A Platform for Innovation
T-Mobile is America’s 5G leader, with the fastest and largest nationwide 5G network. T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G covers more than 280 million people across nearly 1.6 million square miles – more geographic coverage than AT&T and Verizon combined. With Sprint now part of T-Mobile, the Un-carrier is widening its lead, using dedicated spectrum to bring customers with capable devices download speeds of around 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps.

 

With its supercharged 5G network as the foundation, T-Mobile is working to fuel 5G innovation and build the 5G ecosystem. The Un-carrier collaborates with universities and standards bodies to support 5G research and development.  In addition to running the award-winning T-Mobile Accelerator, it also operates the T-Mobile Ventures investment fund and is a co-founder of the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

 

Startups interested in joining the 5G Connected Future program can apply here.

NSF Awards Georgia Tech Researchers with $100K in Civic Innovation Challenge Grants

National Science Foundation-funded competition supports ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects
with high potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities.

 

Two professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology have each been awarded Civic Innovation Challenge Stage 1 grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further their research in bringing solutions to community problems.

 

The $50,000 grants, which in addition to the NSF, are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They were awarded in conjunction with the MetroLab Network, a global consortium that includes 28 cities, 6 counties, and 35 universities — including Georgia Tech, a founding member — focused on civic research and innovation.

 

The two Tech recipients are Pascal Van Hentenryck, the A. Russell Chandler III Chair and Professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and Allen Hyde, assistant professor of sociology at the School of History and Sociology in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

 

Both researchers’ projects are part of Georgia Tech’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program, which aims to develop innovative approaches to help build resilient and sustainable communities.

 

“This is an important recognition for our researchers and how Georgia Tech is a leader in incorporating innovation in solving community-level challenges,” said Debra Lam, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation executive director. “To have two of our projects awarded grants in the two competition categories — communities and mobility, and resilience to natural disasters, underscores the work we are doing has real-world potential to bring quality solutions to some of our most pressing community issues.”

 

Pascal Van Hentenryck is the A. Russell Chandler III Chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Van Hentenryck, who also is associate chair for innovation and entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech, leads the Social Aware Mobility project. Its goal is to increase usage of mass transit systems in metro areas such as Atlanta, by focusing on solutions at the biggest pain points for transit users: the portion of the trips to and from transit stations.

 

“Transit is very important and giving people greater mobility options is critical for access to job centers and health care,” Van Hentenryck said, explaining the grant will be used to fund the implementation of pilot studies in Gwinnett County and the city of Smyrna.

 

“Gwinnett County has a very good transit system but it’s also a very large area to cover. The Social Aware Mobility effort is looking at bringing two solutions to the transit challenge,” he said, adding his team’s findings could have broader implications for mass transit systems and planning globally. “The first is getting people to the buses and trains, which have fixed routes, through service options like on-demand shuttles that address the first-leg and last-leg portions of trips.”

 

Those on-demand shuttles would be flexible both in time and availability and in routes to complement mass transit systems that have fixed routes and schedules. That flexibility would also allow for synchronization of legacy transit systems with those on-demand service options.

 

The second focus of the Social Aware Mobility project is the development of dynamic pricing algorithms and the implementation of a network of dedicated bus lanes for mass transit commuters. The idea is that those lanes would not be congested at peak travel times — morning and evening rush hour, for example — to keep mass transit as a viable and desirable option to idling in cars on traffic-choked roadways.

 

Allen Hyde is an assistant professor of sociology at the School of History and Sociology in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech.

Hyde, the sociology professor and other grant principal investigator, is part of a team of professors and grad students from Georgia Tech and Savannah State University. The researchers are working with Harambee House, a non-profit environmental justice organization, and city of Savannah’s Office of Sustainability.

 

Their work will study the social and physical vulnerabilities of coastal communities — in this case, Savannah, Georgia — and how environmental disasters, such as flooding and hurricanes, affect those communities’ ability to rebound and be resilient.

 

But a community’s ability to rebound also depends on local policies and practices and implementation, Hyde said. And in historically marginalized communities, such as Savannah’s Hudson Hill area, a working class, predominantly Black neighborhood, there may not be adequate resources to help them recover fully. Hudson Hill is adjacent to the Savannah ports and historically has had environmental concerns related to port activity, challenges with public infrastructure and healthcare, and a lack of job opportunities, which exacerbate the effects of disasters.

 

“When we think about resilience, whether it’s after a disaster or another event, a lot of the discussion is framed around telling people to just be more resilient,” Hyde said. “But when we think about historically marginalized communities, we’re not often considering what it is that they feel that they need to be resilient to, what does resilience look like for them in their terms, and do they want to return to the way things were?” The researchers intend to use a community-based participatory research model to engage residents as local knowledge experts and co-producers of data and solutions to answer some of these questions.

 

The discussion around resiliency is often framed as people and communities affected by a disaster returning to a pre-disaster state. “But these communities may not want to return to where things were before,” Hyde said. “They may want to bounce forward into a more thriving, instead of surviving, status.”

 

“We’re working to understand what resilience and vulnerability to disasters means for residents in historically marginalized communities. We also hope to understand how we can further develop social networks because we believe these communities are already resilient, but networks can enhance the resilience that already exists there,” Hyde said. The teams’ research model and developing tailored solutions to the Hudson Hill community may have applications in other areas across the country that have their own unique sets of challenges to disasters, including towns on the U.S.-Mexico border and Native American communities.

 

“Here on the Georgia coast, people do care about hurricanes and about flooding,” Hyde said. “But you can’t just think about disasters in isolation without the context. From a community standpoint, you have to think about the historical challenges that these communities face. You really have to think about the bigger picture. Further, residents should be treated as local knowledge experts, and their voices should be heard and valued in planning before and after disasters.”

SETAAC Awarded $1.2 Million Federal Commerce Grant

SETAAC serves eight southeastern states and helps manufacturers affected by foreign import trade better compete.

SETAAC serves eight southeastern states and helps manufacturers affected by foreign import trade better compete.

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced $13 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs), including $1.2 million to the Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

SETAAC and the other 10 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers help manufacturers affected by imports. The comprehensive assistance includes the development and implementation of projects to regain global competitiveness, expand markets, strengthen operations, and increase profitability. It also saves and/or creates new U.S. jobs.

“The Trump administration is committed to providing a level playing field for American manufacturers,” Ross said in a statement. “This program provides critical technical assistance to firms to help them develop and implement projects to regain global competitiveness, expand market share, and create jobs.”

The TAACs, which each service multiple states, are located in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. The announced grants are for the fifth year of a funding cycle running from 2016 to 2021.

In addition to Georgia, SETAAC’s service area includes the Carolinas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. Created in 1974, SETAAC is an offering of Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, the Enterprise Innovation Institute.

For the 10 years between 2009 and 2019, SETAAC received more than $12.2 million in federal funding and served 250 clients across its service region.

Those companies reported increased sales $49.8 million and saving or creating nearly 2,000 jobs in that period.

Georgia Tech Economic Development Administration University Center awarded $300K Grant

Lynne Henkiel hedshot

Lynne Henkiel is director of Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Administration University Center. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $300,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s EDA University Center.

 

The grant will be used to boost the center’s capacity to support regional economic development strategies in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“The Trump Administration is eager to allocate these essential CARES Act funds and deliver on our promise to help American communities recover from the impact of COVID-19,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “I am proud of the perseverance and strength shown by our communities coast to coast throughout this pandemic, and these funds will help provide Georgia with the necessary resources to make a swift and lasting economic comeback.”

 

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump, provides EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

EDA university centers marshal the resources found in colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in areas challenged with chronic and acute economic distress.

 

Tech was the first institution of higher learning to be designated an EDA University Center when the program was launched in the 1960s. It has been an EDA award recipient since inception — the only institute of higher learning with that distinction.

 

Tech’s EDA University Center, an offering of its economic development arm, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, will use the CARES Act funding to support three specific activities with businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs in Georgia:

 

  • Conduct, share, and disseminate applied research to address specific challenges or needs, or solve specific problems resulting from the economic impacts of coronavirus.
  • Provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs, businesses and communities to assist in their recovery efforts from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Assist communities in identifying, defining, and supporting their workforce talent with the goal of helping communities recover from the economic impacts of coronavirus.

 

“We always incorporate new, innovative approaches in working with our clients,” said Georgia Tech EDA University Center Director Lynne Henkiel. “Georgia businesses and communities are all dealing with the effects that COVID-19 on their operations and local economies. This funding will help support our work and development of programs and training for business and community leaders to evaluate and reassess their activities to help them get back up and operating quickly.”

 

Among some of the services that Tech’s EDA University Center will offer under grant include business counseling, feasibility studies, and resilience plans, as well as skills development and workforce training, among other offerings.

 

“This investment comes at a crucial time to help Georgia’s and our nation’s economy come roaring back and provide hard-working Americans with new opportunities,” said Dana Gartzke, performing the delegated duties of the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. “We are pleased to make this investment in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by assisting communities across Georgia develop short and long-term resilience plans with additional support for workforce development initiatives.”

 

In 2018, the most recent reporting data available, the EDA University Center at Georgia Tech worked with 13 clients and helped them save or create 57 jobs and secure more than $1.4 million in private and public sector investments.

Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Research Program Selects City of Woodbury for Revitalization Initiative

Three-month project to help city develop, plan short and long-term economic development goals for job growth, downtown revitalization.

 

Main Street, Woodbury, Georgia’s primary commercial strip. (Photo Credit: City of Woodbury)

The Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) at the Georgia Institute of Technology is working with Woodbury, a community in West Georgia’s Meriwether County, under an agreement to help a coalition of civic and business leaders develop a strategic assessment plan to guide the city’s economic development efforts.

 

The strategic assessment process includes an analysis of the community, starting with interviews with local and regional stakeholders. The completed assessment will also provide guidance on historic preservation as the city and local downtown development authority pursue redevelopment projects in some of Woodbury’s historic buildings in the central business district.

 

The project began in May 2020 and take three months to complete.

 

“The idea is by pursuing strategic redevelopment projects that make sense for Woodbury and leverage its assets, that will spur small business and job growth in downtown,” said Candace McKie, an EDRP project manager. “One of Woodbury’s strengths is that it is attractive to people seeking a slower pace of life in a community that offers the benefits akin to being in a big city.”

 

The assessment’s findings will help define Woodbury’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a preliminary vision to guide the city on attainable, effective actions to reach its short and long-term economic development goals. The strategic assessment will also aid Woodbury as it prepares its application for a Rural Zone designation by Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs.

 

Located in Meriwether County’s southeastern quadrant, Woodbury sits within the Three Rivers Regional Commission area, a 10-county body that provides a number of services, including aging programs, workforce development, transportation, and local/regional planning.

 

Woodbury — which is a little more than two square miles in area and home to about 900 residents —  is an hour’s drive south from Atlanta. Incorporated as a city in 1913, Woodbury’s downtown has a rich history. The community has statewide appeal, drawing tourists seeking rare antique finds, as well as outdoors enthusiasts who participate in waterfront recreational activities on the Flint River, located just a short trip to the east. Designated a “Broadband Ready” community by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), the city recently installed 1G internet service throughout the downtown area.

 

Steve Ledbetter is mayor of Woodbury, Georgia. (Photo Credit: City of Woodbury)

Even with Woodbury’s cultural and natural amenities, local officials say the city is ripe for revitalization. That is why the city sought to capitalize on its historic assets and redevelop the downtown and submitted an application to the EDRP.

 

“Partnering with Georgia Tech to complete our Strategic Priorities Assessment for our community has highlighted our community’s sense of pride and ownership,” said Woodbury Mayor Steve Ledbetter.  Collectively, we can make a difference.  We can revive our downtown, bring new businesses into our community, and show our Georgia pride in Woodbury. We’re excited about this opportunity and look forward to implementing the plan developed through the EDRP program.”

 

Funded through a U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center grant, EDRP serves rural and economically distressed communities in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.

 

Powered by Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), EDRP leverages Tech’s assets to help communities engineer economic development success through affordable, in-depth research.

 

Communities that apply for a research grant have to commit local funds, based on ability to pay.  That local funding maximizes resources and ensures community involvement through all research project phases. Some recent EDRP studies include projects in Walker, Grady, and Liberty counties.

 

About the Economic Development Research Program (EDRP)
EDRP is Georgia Tech’s signature program for providing affordable economic development research and analysis capacity for communities that need it the most.  EDRP is funded through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center grant program (Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is a designated EDA University Center).  EDRP is available to eligible communities across eight southeastern U.S. states. To learn more, visit cedr.gatech.edu/edrp.

Georgia Tech EDA University Center Study Leads to Federal Grant for Valdosta Business Incubator

Downtown Valdosta

Valdosta, Georgia.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $2.5 million grant to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce to fund the construction of a new business incubator in that South Georgia community. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $1.7 million in local funds.

 

It is expected to help create up to 81 jobs and generate $9.7 million in private investment.

 

“The Trump Administration is committed to the resilience of local economies by encouraging companies to grow in designated opportunity zones,” Ross said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing how the new Valdosta Area Business Incubator will help a wide variety of businesses prosper in the region.”

 

The announcement follows a four-month analysis conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center in 2015 and 2016.

 

Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, these university centers marshal the resources found in colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in areas facing chronic and acute economic distress.

 

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce contracted with Tech’s EDA University Center to conduct a community readiness assessment as the first step in pursuing its goal of a sustainable business incubation program. The chamber paid for a portion of the analysis and the Georgia Tech EDA University Center covered the remainder.

 

Business incubation provides entrepreneurs with an array of targeted business support resources and services in an effort to accelerate the successful development of startup companies.

 

But the development of a business incubation program requires a detailed plan of action that identifies the critical resources needed for success, provides a blueprint for its management, staffing, and how it will be funded and operated.

 

During the October 2015 – January 2016 timeframe, the Georgia Tech team conducted primary and secondary research to address three core areas of incubation strategy development: entrepreneurship and innovation, community and stakeholder support and resources and capabilities.

 

“We concluded that there was a demand and justification for a business incubation program and that the community should move forward with plans to develop it,” said Juli Golemi, senior project manager with Tech’s EDA University Center. “We provided the chamber with an analysis of the state of the ecosystem and identified several strategic initiatives for the organization to pursue to develop it.”

 

Golemi and her team identified 19 components, including strong and increasing entrepreneurial activity, existing infrastructure, academic institutions, and Moody Air Force Base, that made the idea a viable one.

 

The U.S. Commerce Department’s funding announcement covers a designated Opportunity Zone, as designated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically-distressed communities nationwide.

 

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC). EDA funds the SGRC to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment, and create jobs.

 

Georgia Tech has been an EDA award recipient since the program’s inception in the 1980s — the only institute of higher learning with that distinction.

 

Tech’s EDA University Center’s mission is to support and lead activities designed to promote job creation, the development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and to create and nurture regional economic ecosystems in Georgia. In addition, the center conducts technology-related economic and policy research that will enhance Georgia’s competitive position.

 

In fiscal year 2019, Tech’s EDA University Center’s work helped save or create 38 jobs and led to private sector investment of $5.8 million in Georgia.

 

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), which is Tech’s economic development and outreach arm.

Gov. Kemp taps Center for Economic Development Research director for coronavirus task force

Alfie Meek is an economist and director of the Center for Economic Development Research at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Photo: Jennifer Stalcup)

Looking to anticipate and blunt the effects of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic on Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has convened a coronavirus task force that looks at the economic, health, emergency response and preparedness, and housing implications of the deadly disease.

 

The 66-member task force is comprised of four subcommittees, including one focused on economic impact. That subcommittee includes Alfie Meek, economist and director of the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) at Georgia Tech.

 

“The role of the Economic Impact Subcommittee is to help predict the economic effects on the state of Georgia from COVID19 and make recommendations,” Meek said. “We‘re also being asked to brainstorm policies that might be implemented to help ease the economic pain from this event.”

 

Meek has more than 25 years of experience in economic/fiscal impact analysis and community-based research. He leads the five-member CEDR staff, which works with its clients — economic developers, community leaders, and industry — to help them understand the opportunities and challenges in fostering local and regional economic development.

 

Meek is one of three economists selected to serve on the governor’s task force subcommittee. The others are Jeffrey Dorfman, the state fiscal economist who is the subcommittee chairman, and Thomas Cunningham the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s chief economist.

 

The full subcommittee met for the first time on March 19 in a virtual conference call.

 

“One clear goal is to represent the many different facets of Georgia’s economy that we think will be economically vulnerable at this time,” Meek said.

 

In addition to Dorfman, Cunningham, and Meek, the Economic Impact Subcommittee members include:

  • Allan Adams, State Director UGA Small Business Development Center
  • Nick Ayers, Managing Partner AFH Capital
  • Will Bentley, Georgia Agribusiness Council
  • Donna Bowman, Office of the State Treasurer
  • Labor Commissioner Mark Butler
  • Peter Carter, Delta Air Lines Chief Legal Officer (and Chair, Metro Chamber)
  • Bill Douglas, Athens First Bank & Trust
  • Georgia State Sen. Frank Ginn
  • Walter Kemmsies, economic consultant to Georgia Ports Authority
  • Steve McCoy, Chief Investment Officer, Office of the State Treasurer
  • Richard McPhail, Chief Financial Officer, Home Depot
  • Georgia House Rep. Clay Pirkle
  • Joe W. Rogers, III, Waffle House
  • Jessica Simmons, Department of Revenue Deputy Commissioner
  • Jim Sprouse, Executive Director Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Will Wade, Georgia Student Finance Commission