Georgia Tech Helps Paulding County Get Down to Business

When Paulding County Commission Chairman David Austin took office in early 2009, he knew his county had a lot going for it. Located about 25 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, Paulding has long been one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, and a new jet-capable airport had opened there the preceding November.

Economic Development Organization

But Paulding wasn’t a popular destination for businesses, and Austin knew that had to change.  To achieve that goal would require creating an economic development organization (EDO) – Paulding was the largest county in the state without one.

For help, he turned to Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), and today Paulding has the organization and strategy in place to become a business hotspot.

Getting Started

Since 2000, Paulding’s population has grown by a whopping 75 percent and now totals more than 143,000 residents. That trend would please any local government official, but another statistic takes some of the shine off the county’s remarkable growth: 76 percent of its residents travel outside Paulding to work. “We needed to change from being a bedroom community to being a business community,” Austin said.

Thomas Glanton, a local insurance businessman and former state legislator who is currently a member of the Paulding Planning Commission, urged Austin to contact Georgia Tech about overseeing the development of an EDO. After Georgia Tech was hired, the institute immediately worked with Austin to form a leadership team of nearly 100 county officials, business leaders and educators to provide input and serve as a decision maker during the creation of the organization.

“We interviewed a lot of individuals, both on the leadership team and others, to see how they wanted economic development in Paulding to proceed – the structure, the focus,” said Dana King Brewer, a senior project manager with EI2’s Community Innovation Services team.

Paulding County's new hospital
Paulding County officials are working to attract medical device firms to a 100-acre wellness park near this new hospital, set to open in Hiram in 2014.

Brewer and her colleagues at Georgia Tech also researched successful EDOs across Georgia and the country, and presented their findings to the Paulding leadership team. As for the structure of the EDO, the county had numerous options, according to Brewer. For instance, the EDO could be a department within the county, part of the local chamber of commerce or a separate non-profit entity.

EI2 officials and members of the leadership team visited four different EDOs in Georgia – in Bartow, Carroll, Floyd and Hall counties – before deciding to set up the Paulding EDO as a non-profit funded through a public-private partnership. The EDO receives funding from Paulding County, the cities of Dallas and Hiram, and the Paulding Chamber of Commerce. Each entity appoints two board members from the private sector. The Paulding County Industrial Building Authority names the ninth board member.

In Business

The EDO’s board first met in the summer of 2010, at which point Georgia Tech began assisting the initial organizational activities of the new entity, now called Paulding Economic Development Inc. One board member works for the Georgia Power Company, and the utility largely oversaw the search for an executive director for the organization.

In early 2011, Jamie Gilbert, previously head of the Douglasville (Ga.) Development Authority, was hired. “This was an incredible opportunity: the chance to become economic development director in one of Georgia’s most attractive counties for economic development,” said Gilbert, who has 20 years of related experience.

Brewer said the Paulding EDO has found a great leader. “Everyone’s incredibly happy with how it turned out,” she said. “Jamie has more energy than you could possibly imagine in a person.”

On the Recruiting Trail

Paulding County Courthouse
Paulding County’s population has grown 75 percent since 2000 and now totals more than 143,000 residents. Shown here is the historic Paulding County

Gilbert noted that since Paulding primarily developed as a bedroom community, the size of the existing industrial base is relatively small, with only a couple of companies having more than 100 employees. “Existing industry is critically important to us but they can’t be expected to shoulder the responsibility for fundamentally changing our economy in a way that will begin to reduce our high percentage of ‘out commuters,’” he said. “That change will come from attracting new industry to Paulding that complements those companies already here.”

During the formation of the EDO, Georgia Tech helped the Paulding leadership team identify which industries to target. Armed with the research and Gilbert’s expertise, Paulding Economic Development Inc. is recruiting aerospace companies, which can take advantage of the new airport, and healthcare firms, which officials hope will locate in a 100-acre “wellness park” that will surround WellStar’s new state-of-the-art hospital, set to open in Hiram in 2014.

Other targeted industries include automotive suppliers, which Gilbert believes will find the proximity to Southern car-assembly plants appealing; renewable energy firms; metal fabricators; and medical equipment manufacturers. The county also will continue to push itself as an ideal spot for Hollywood filmmakers to make movies. Several recent major motion pictures – including the remake of “Footloose” and “Joyful Noise”– were filmed in Paulding, and the Atlanta Film Studios, a full-service production facility, opened in Hiram early this year.

Since assuming his role last spring, Gilbert’s days have been filled with meetings with economic development allies at the regional and state levels and with travel to trade shows for Paulding’s targeted industries. He is realistic about how long it could take to transform the bedroom community into a business mecca but said early returns are encouraging. “The results are coming in quickly as far as interest in Paulding, and we had two new businesses locate to the county at the end of 2011 that were the direct result of our economic development efforts,” he said.

Meanwhile, Austin said he couldn’t be happier about the guidance provided by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “This has absolutely been a fantastic partnership,” he said. “I can’t sing the praises of Dana and her team enough.”


Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA


Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(

Writer: Stephen Ursery


Green Nanotechnology Investment: Researchers Help Assess Economic Impact of Nanotech on Green & Sustainable Growth

In the United States alone, government and private industry together invest more than $3 billion per year in nanotechnology research and development, and globally the total is much higher. What will be the long-run economic returns from these investments, not only in new jobs and product sales, but also from improvements in sustainability?

Examples of nanogenerators
Image shows nanogenerators developed in the laboratory of Zhong Lin Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The devices contain 700 rows of nanowire arrays, which produce enough power for nanometer-scale sensors. (Credit: Gary Meek)

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers Philip Shapira and Jan Youtie helped answer that question through research presented March 27th at the International Symposium on Assessing the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology held in Washington, D.C. The researchers highlighted the importance of full lifecycle assessments to understand the impacts of nanotechnologies on green economic development in such areas as energy, the environment and safe drinking water.

“Nanotechnology promises to foster green and sustainable growth in many product and process areas,” said Shapira, a professor with Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom. “Although nanotechnology commercialization is still in its early phases, we need now to get a better sense of what markets will grow and how new nanotechnology products will impact sustainability. This includes balancing gains in efficiency and performance against the net energy, environmental, carbon and other costs associated with the production, use and end-of-life disposal or recycling of nanotechnology products.”

But because nanotechnology underlies many different industries, assessing and forecasting its impact won’t be easy. “Compared to information technology and biotechnology, for example, nanotechnology has more of the characteristics of a general technology such as the development of electric power,” said Youtie, director of policy research services at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “That makes it difficult to analyze the value of products and processes that are enabled by the technology. We hope that our paper will provide background information and help frame the discussion about making those assessments.”

Researcher Jan Youtie
Jan Youtie is director of policy research services at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. (Credit: Georgia Tech).

The symposium is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and by the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative. Support for Georgia Tech research into the societal impacts of nanotechnology has come from the National Science Foundation through the Center for Nanotechnology in Society based at Arizona State University.

For their paper, co-authors Shapira and Youtie examined a subset of green nanotechnologies that aim to enable sustainable energy, improve environmental quality, and provide healthy drinking water for areas of the world that now lack it. They argue that the lifecycle of nanotechnology products must be included in the assessment.

“In examining the economic impact of these green nanotechnologies, we have to consider the lifecycle, which includes such issues as environmental health and safety, as well as the amount of energy required to produce materials such as carbon nanotubes,” said Shapira.

Environmental concerns have been raised about what happens to nanomaterials when they get into water supplies, he noted. In addition, some nanostructures use toxic elements such as cadmium. Energy required for producing nano-enabled products is also an important consideration, though it may be balanced against the energy saved – and pollution reduced – through the use of such products, Shapira said.

Research into these societal issues, which is being conducted in parallel with the research and development of nanotechnology – may allow the resulting nano-enabled products to avoid the kinds of the controversies that have hindered earlier technologies.

“Scientists, policy-makers and other observers have found that some of the promise of prior rounds of technology was limited by not anticipating and considering societal concerns prior to the introduction of new products,” Youtie said. “For nanotechnology, it is vital that these issues are being considered even during the research and development stage, before products hit the market in significant quantities.”

Researcher Phil Shapira
Phil Shapira is a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom. (Credit: Georgia Tech)

The nanotechnology industry began with large companies that had the resources to invest in research and development. But that is now changing, Youtie said.

“A lot of small companies are involved in novel nanomaterials development,” she said. “Large companies often focus on integrating those nanomaterials into existing products or processes.”

Among the goals of the OECD symposium are development of methodologies and approaches for estimating the impacts of green nanotechnology on jobs and new product sales. Existing forecasts have come largely from proprietary models used by private-sector firms.

“While these private forecasts have high visibility, their information and methods are often proprietary,” Shapira noted. “We also need to develop open and peer-reviewed models in which approaches are transparent and everyone can see the methods and assumptions used.”

In their paper, Youtie and Shapira cite several examples of green nanotechnology, discuss the potential impacts of the technology, and review forecasts that have been made. Examples of green nanotechnology they cite include:

Nano-enabled solar cells that use lower-cost organic materials, as opposed to current photovoltaic technologies that require rare materials such as platinum;

  • Nanogenerators that use piezoelectric materials such as zinc oxide nanowires to convert human movement into energy;
  • Energy storage applications in which nanotechnology materials improve existing batteries and nano-enabled fuel cells;
  • Thermal energy applications, such as nano-enabled insulation;
  • Fuel catalysis in which nanoparticles improve the production and refining of fuels and reduce emissions from automobiles;
  • Technologies used to provide safe drinking water through improved water treatment, desalination and reuse.

Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986)(

Writer: John Toon

Basic Economic Development Course Celebrates 45 Years of Service

For 45 years, economic developers have taken their first career steps at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC), presented by the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute and accredited by the International Economic Development Council, began in 1967 as the first course of its kind in the country. The nearly 100 participants expected for this year’s course will join a list of more than 2,800 graduates.

“We are proud to be celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Basic Economic Development Course here at Georgia Tech,” said Alfie Meek, director of Community Innovation Services at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Georgia Tech was founded in the 1880s to promote the economic development of the state of Georgia, and that gives the Basic Course even more credibility as we continue to advance economic developers’ careers and communities nationwide.”

Participants will explore a number of core topics during the four-day course, which is scheduled for March 20-23 at the Georgia Tech Global Learning and Conference Center. Topics will include community development, strategic planning, marketing and attraction, business retention and expansion, workforce development, organizational management, finance, real estate development and reuse, strategic planning, marketing, workforce development, economic development ethics, development of entrepreneurs, and trends in economic development. The program is especially designed for new professionals with public and private agencies, chamber of commerce staff, public utilities personnel, local elected officials and volunteers supporting economic development.

The economic development profession has changed over time, and those in the profession today must have a broad expertise to succeed, said Jay A. Garner, CEcD, president and founder of Garner Economics, LLC, an economic development and site location consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta. Garner will serve as the keynote speaker for the 2012 BEDC.

“In today’s global economy, successful economic development practitioners must be a jack of all trades and a master of all.” he said.  “That means that with scarce funding resources and staffing, yet fierce global competition in the marketplace, economic developers must be more than proficient in everything from reading and analyzing a complex financial statement to navigating the complexities of land use planning, to understating the marketing nuances of promoting a state, region or community. We all must get used to doing more with less.”

The 2012 BEDC event will be dedicated to the late Bob Cassell, a pioneer in modern economic development who served as director of Georgia Tech’s Basic Economic Development Course from its inception in 1967 until 1993. Cassell served as a principal research scientist at Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Laboratory (EDL), where he authored numerous economic analyses and edited the Georgia Development News for 15 years. EDL was a predecessor organization to the Enterprise Innovation Institute.

For more information on this course and other professional development services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Hortense Jackson (229-430-4327); Email: (; or visit

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (

Metro Execs Weigh in on Competitiveness

Business leaders from across metro Atlanta had their say Monday in what Gov. Nathan Deal called the most important non-legislative initiative of his first year in office. The Atlanta Regional Commission hosted an economic development summit on the campus of Georgia Tech, the fourth in a series of brainstorming sessions being held across the state this summer by the Georgia Competitiveness Initiative. Deal hatched the project to gather feedback from business executives on what the state should do to help create jobs as Georgia rebounds from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Economist Alfie Meek Named Director of Community Innovation Services

Veteran business analyst and economist Alfie Meek has been named director of Community Innovation Services (CIS) at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2). Meek, who received his undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech in business economics, will lead Georgia Tech’s initiatives in community economic development, overseeing a team of experts advising economic development and government leaders on how to be competitive in the ever-changing global economy.

Prior to joining EI2, Meek worked as the economic analysis director for Gwinnett County where he oversaw the county’s economic development program as well as its forecasting and research efforts. Two years ago, Meek played a significant role in one of Georgia’s largest economic development successes — the move of Fortune 500 corporation NCR to Georgia – and also was key to the relocation of the Gwinnett Braves and to the attraction of high-tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Advanced Micro Devices.

“The opportunity to take my previous research experience with the University System, combine it with the applied knowledge that comes from  doing economic development at the local level, and use that unique combination to help other communities was a very attractive prospect,” Meek said of his decision to join EI2. “And as a huge bonus, I get to do all this at a place that is very dear to my heart, my alma mater, Georgia Tech.”

In his new role, Meek will manage the CIS team, which supports communities with economic and community development research, analysis and planning. Projects range from strategic planning to workforce analysis, from fiscal impact analysis of new or expanding firms to sustainable development strategies for communities of all sizes.

“Our Community Innovation Services group provides unique and valuable economic development services to Georgia communities and organizations,” said Stephen Fleming, a Georgia Tech vice president and executive director of EI2. “We are fortunate to have Alfie Meek on board, as he is an experienced economic development practitioner, economist and consultant. We now have further enhanced our capabilities around fiscal impact, strategic planning, economic development research and training.”

In addition to his position with Gwinnett County, Meek has previously worked as the director of applied research at the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center, as an economist and project director with Georgia Tech’s former Center for Economic Development Services, as a research economist for SunTrust Banks, Inc., and as a budget and expense/revenue analyst for International Business Machines Corp.

He earned his doctoral degree in agricultural economics from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in business economics from Georgia State University and a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Georgia Tech.  He is a Certified Community Researcher (CCR) and a member of the National Association for Business Economics and the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

“The CIS group already has an experienced staff with a deep skill set. I hope to add to that skill set by bringing some of the tools I developed at Gwinnett – service cost and fiscal analysis, forecasting models, local economic analysis, etc. – along with an emphasis on rigorous research and project implementation,” Meek said. “Research and planning is great, but it isn’t enough. My experience in Gwinnett reinforced the importance of partnerships and implementation and I hope that is something I can help other communities put into action.”

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: E-mail: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (

Writer: Nancy Fullbright


Gainesville May Soon Have a ‘Neighborhood of Innovation’

As the University of Florida’s Innovation Square project begins to take shape, a similar development in Atlanta provides an indication of what might be coming… Georgia Tech’s Technology Square development shows the possibilities. The development’s midtown Atlanta address is an obvious difference from the UF project’s location in a Gainesville neighborhood between its much smaller downtown and campus. But the mix of startup companies, established businesses and commercial stores is similar to what UF is seeking. “What makes this place work is the mix,” said Stephen Fleming, vice president of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. Technology Square, commonly called Tech Square, was built in an Atlanta neighborhood where parking lots and warehouses had been located. Georgia Tech was separated from the neighborhood by the Downtown Connector interstate, and the area had become home to drugs and prostitution, said Mack Reese of Gateway Development Services.

Read the full story here:

GTPAC to Manage Albany’s Small Business Program

Dougherty County commissioners vote to shut down the county’s small business office.  The office, which currently has one full time and one part time employee will close effective April 30th, but the county will still have a small business program. The commission also voted Monday to contract with the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center to manage the program for $55,000.

Columbus Entrepreneur Utilizes State Resources to Launch New Business

Eight-month-old Justin, born five weeks premature, plays with the tulip rattle developed by Maddie's World.

Born weighing less than two pounds, little Maddie Lefcourt remained in the hospital for 105 days before her mother Donna could finally bring her home. But the homecoming marked the start of another struggle.

“When Maddie came home, she was already three and half months behind,” recalled Lefcourt, who works as a billing specialist for an obstetrician-gynecologist in Columbus, Ga. “Because of her birth weight, she qualified for a state-funded program called Babies Can’t Wait that guarantees eligible children access to services that enhance their development. The physical therapist assigned to Maddie worked with her every other week based on her needs.”

During one such session, the therapist wanted to teach Maddie how to grasp a toy for fine motor skill development. Lefcourt noticed that every time she put the toy in her daughter’s hand, she would drop it, either because of the toy’s size or the weight. After exhausting all local and online retail sources for toys suitable for her daughter, Lefcourt was seized by the entrepreneurial spirit and decided to make her own line of specialty toys.

“I was lying in bed one night and I popped up and said, ‘I’ve got it. We’re going to have a company and make toys for premature babies.’ I even thought of the name while I was lying there – Little Hands for Preemies,” Lefcourt said.

Lefcourt began researching the market for toys for premature babies and learned from the March of Dimes that more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the United States. She also researched baby toy companies both nationally and internationally. While she was researching online, she stumbled upon an inventors’ workshop being offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) to expand educational and professional networking opportunities for Georgia’s inventor community.

In 2007, Georgia Tech launched the first statewide survey of independent inventors through a pilot program sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. More than 300 inventors responded to the survey, and that feedback led to creation of workshops designed to help independent inventors improve their product development and business efforts, while connecting them with resources in intellectual property protection and licensing – two of the key building blocks for commercialization.

“I thought the workshop would be something fun and I could learn something,” said Lefcourt. “I was very skeptical about talking to people and telling them my business idea, but I also realized that was the only way I could get some help.”

After the workshop, Lefcourt introduced herself to Ed Murphy, a project manager with the Georgia Entrepreneur and Small Business Outreach program, a partnership between EI2 and the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center that delivers services to entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural Georgia. The program is funded by the OneGeorgia Authority.

Murphy assisted Lefcourt with researching manufacturers that could make her line of specialty baby toys and coached her on the kinds of questions she needed to ask. As a result, she selected Peliton Plastics, a plastic injection molding company in Valdosta, Ga., to make the first three toys – a rattle, a teether and dexterity/motor skill toy.

“I already had some prototypes that I shared with Peliton Plastics. The size and the weight are the biggest issues for preemie baby toys,” she said. “We needed to figure out how many toys we would go to market with because molds are very, very expensive. We decided to start with three different toys for three different functions.”

Lefcourt also hired a local marketing professional, Jason Bray, to help her design a company logo and revamp the name of the business. They settled on “Maddie’s World” – represented by a butterfly – with “Little Hands for Preemies” as a toy line. Murphy continued to assist Lefcourt with developing a business plan and her pricing structure.

“He was very encouraging and even the days I got down, he pushed me to press forward. Every time I’ve ever called him about anything, he’s been right there,” Lefcourt said.

In addition to utilizing EI2’s entrepreneur services, Lefcourt took advantage of FastTrac® NewVenture™, a 10-week program developed by the Kauffman Foundation and offered through the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that helps startup entrepreneurs develop and evaluate their business model and develop a plan for success. Class participants learn how to write an actionable business plan, are given access to financial and business resources and are able to network with peers and professionals, lessons Lefcourt described as vital.

“In these difficult and challenging budget times, it is more important than ever for state agencies to work together to provide assistance to the citizens of Georgia,” said Lori Auten, SBDC Columbus area director. “Both Georgia Tech and UGA bring unique qualifications and areas of specialty to the table to assist Georgia businesses.”

Moving forward, Lefcort says she wants to also design toys for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and develop a clothing line for both premature infants and toddlers. A portion of Maddie’s World sales are currently donated to the local Children’s Miracle Network where the toys are purchased.

“Donna exemplifies the successful entrepreneur; she has passion, energy and exhibits a willingness to learn,” said Murphy. “Without any illusions about the challenges she faced, she employed lessons learned and direction given and just went to work to systematically execute her plan.”

Photo caption: Eight-month-old Justin, born five weeks premature, plays with the tulip rattle developed by Maddie’s World.

About Enterprise Innovation Institute:

The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Local Leaders Asked to Leverage Broadband Technology

A broadband network expansion is under way in Northwest Georgia. The next step is learning to leverage it.

“The power of it is what you do with it,” said Greg Laudeman of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Laudeman spoke Tuesday to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission’s technology team — representatives of governments, business and industries in the 15-county area.

He is proposing a pilot program that would teach local users, including small and mid-sized organizations, how to harness digital technology to boost their competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Read more: – Local leaders asked to leverage broadband technology