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 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.