Serena Williams Lobs Venture Funds to Enterprise Innovation Institute Client Lillii RNB

Barbara Jones-Brown headshot

Barbara Jones-Brown.

ATDC and Georgia MBDA Business Center client Barbara Jones-Brown has received $3 million in venture funding, led by tennis great Serena Williams’ early-stage venture fund. The investment in Jones-Brown’s company, Lillii RNB Inc., will support Freeing Returns, a platform that analyzes product return data to detect fraud.

 

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, home to ATDC and the Georgia MBDA Business Center, first met Jones-Brown in 2015, when she and her team were the grand prize winners of the ATDC FinTech Hack Competition, sponsored by payment processing provider Worldpay.

 

“I think at least four or five of the problems they wanted to solve during that hackathon were related to [retail] returns. We knew that space very well,” Jones-Brown said. “We took on all of the challenges they had around returns, we built all of that into the application that is now Freeing Returns, and that has gotten us this $3 million investment.”

 

The hackathon was the beginning of a fruitful relationship with Georgia Tech. She has also worked with the Opportunity Hub at its home in Tech Square, received support from the ATDC following the hackathon win, hired Georgia Tech students as interns and employees, and now is a client of the Georgia MBDA Business Center. “We’ve taken full advantage of having Georgia Tech in the backyard,” she said.

 

And while the resources Georgia Tech offers have been important – and were, in fact, the catalyst for the development of Freeing Returns – Jones-Brown has also participated in other entrepreneurial programs in Atlanta.

 

“One of the great values of the Enterprise Innovation Institute is we engage in hand-offs — from external partners and to external partners, as well as within Georgia Tech,” said Enterprise Innovation Institute Vice President David Bridges. “We are a valued connector and capacity builder within the Atlanta and Georgia ecosystem.”

 

That ecosystem came full circle in 2020. Jones-Brown was graduating from the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s Ascend Atlanta program, a small business support program for minority and women-owned companies funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Georgia MBDA Business Center Director Donna Ennis spoke at the graduation. Jones-Brown reached out to Ennis and became a client.

 

“We’re really helping her with capacity building,” Ennis said about the work her program is doing with Jones-Brown. “That’s the coaching that she’s getting and connecting her into different networks. We’ll continue to work with her to try to identify opportunities for her product.”

 

Meanwhile, Jones-Brown has $3 million to spend. Part of it will support work her company is doing with Salesforce. She’s also recruited new talent into the company, leaders in the retail loss prevention arena, to work on predicting fraud rather than responding to it, she said. “We’re adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to the data analytics that we’re collecting. We will start getting better at predicting the fraud before it happens, so that we can alert retailers to potential fraudulent transactions.”

 

And it all started with a hackathon at the ATDC.

Enterprise Innovation Institute to Host Spanish Technology Entrepreneurs for Training Series

Georgia Tech Administration and Finance Vice President Kelly Fox (left) and Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology Director General Javier Ponce Martinez sign a letter of intent to create a training program for Spanish technology entrepreneurs. (Photo: Matt Hummel)

In the fall of 2022, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute will host 20 technology startup founders from the Kingdom of Spain in a training program designed to expose Spanish entrepreneurs to the startup ecosystem in metro Atlanta, Georgia, and the broader United States.

 

The initiative stems from a collaborative effort between the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Innovation Ecosystems program and Spain’s Centre Para El Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial (Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology) to develop the training program for Spanish entrepreneurs.

 

As a part of Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation, the government office charged with fostering technological development and innovation of Spanish companies, the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology coordinates the funding and support applications for those startups’ national and international research and development projects. The Centre also manages, including managing Spanish companies’ participation in international technological cooperation programs.

 

Innovation Ecosystems works with communities, governments, and organizations to help them launch, operate, and sustain successful entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

 

From left: Georgia Tech Innovation Ecosystems Interim Director Juli Golemi; Kelly Fox; Javier Ponce Martinez; Enterprise Innovation Institute Vice President David Bridges; Centre Technical Innovation Director Carlos de la Cruz Molina; Economic Development Lab Interim Director Lynne Henkiel; and ATDC Director John Avery. (Photo: Matt Hummel)

The early-stage startup founders, who are tentatively scheduled to come to campus for a week in September, would participate in a series of workshops being led by some of the Institute’s flagship ecosystem development programs, including the Advanced Technology Development Center, VentureLab, and the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business.

 

Centre leaders — Director General Javier Ponce Martinez and Director of Technical Innovation Carlos de la Cruz Molina — visited the Georgia Tech campus to sign an agreement that establishes a framework for the training and curriculum, which includes an overview of the Georgia ecosystem, lean startup methodology, and innovating for sustainability.

 

“This is an opportunity to get together to collaborate together towards the future,” Martinez said during the signing ceremony. “The future looking at sustainability issues, industrial, and social activities. This is the starting point, and a great starting point.”

 

The organization has collaborations with other countries, but this is its first such effort in the United States.

 

The Enterprise Innovation Institute — Georgia Tech’s economic development arm — is the largest, most comprehensive, university-based program of entrepreneurship and startup company development, business and industry growth, ecosystem development, international outreach in the United States. As a globally recognized model of university-based economic development, the Enterprise Innovation Institute has hosted a number of international delegations in recent years looking to engage with Georgia Tech and its programs, including from the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, France, Argentina, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and South Africa.

 

“We are celebrating connecting globally and inclusive innovation and this agreement is at the heart of a space that is very important to the Institute,” said Georgia Tech Administration and Finance Vice President Kelly Fox, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Institute. “We’re honored that you are working with us, and we look forward to seeing how this grows from there.”

Enterprise 6 Internship Project Listing Summer 2022

  • Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR)
    This position will be assisting the research professionals at the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) with gathering and analyzing data related to various community-level contract research projects. Typical projects include labor force analysis, strategic planning, economic and/or fiscal impact analysis, and community resilience. Examples of tasks may include working with spreadsheet data, GIS analysis, data visualization, demographic analysis, and survey evaluation.
    cedr.gatech.edu

 

  • Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) – Communications/Marketing
    The Enterprise Innovation Institute is Georgia Tech’s economic development arm and comprised of 14 different programs. The ideal student for this position is someone with a strong creative background — ideally one majoring/minoring in marketing or design. The student will work on creating collateral materials (pull-up banners, one-pagers, posters, etc.), some stories, and helping us build a strategy around growing our social media channels’ audiences.
    innovate.gatech.edu

 

  • Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) – International Strategic Plan
    In the last 10 years, EI2 has implemented economic capacity development projects in over 20 countries on five continents. These efforts have been both in response to external inquires and to targeted outreach efforts using elements of a draft strategic plan. This Enterprise 6 project will focus on collecting data and structuring a long-term international strategic plan complete with plans for funding and staffing. Skills required would be the ability to collect and analyze data from the multiple different units within EI2 and external public sources. Also the ability to identify and classify the major areas of services provided.
    innovate.gatech.edu

 

  • Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership – Industry 4.0 and Advanced Manufacturing
    Assist Senior Project Managers within the GaMEP for Industry 4.0 and Advanced Technology implementation projects. This includes support project scoping, technology scouting and facilitating technology onboarding support for the GaMEP manufacturing clients throughout Georgia. Specific project work includes sensors and data collection for predictive maintenance, IoT, edge computing, AI, digital twinning, robotics, and additive manufacturing. Tasks will include manufacturing site visits and assisting with researching and selection technology solutions to manufacturing needs.
    gamep.org

 

  • Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership – Marketing to Manufacturers
    Looking for a student that is interested in getting more experience in marketing. As part of the program, this student will be creating marketing collateral, writing stories, working on social media, making updates to websites, updating content for SEO, pulling metrics, and more. This student will support initiatives under the three Industry Services programs (GaMEP, SHES, and SETAAC) that serve manufacturers. The student will work closely and learn from a robust marketing team and will report to the Group Manager of Marketing. The student should either be seeking a major or minor in marketing and/or have marketing experience for a club, society, or other initiative.
    gamep.org

 

  • Georgia MBDA Business Center – National MBE Manufacturers’ Summit
    The 6th annual Summit is scheduled for August 21-23, 2022. This project management support role will touch all aspects of the planning of the event, including contacting national level speakers, organizing a tour event, developing content for the website and program booklet, and promoting the event through social media and press releases.
    mbemanufacturersummit.com/

 

  • Innovation Ecosystems – Web Developer
    The Innovation Ecosystems team is seeking a creative web developer who would help update the unit’s websites. The successful applicant will be responsible for the planning, design, and updates of two websites. The student will also contribute to the development of marketing and promotional materials design and content. The ideal candidate for this position is a student who is seeking a degree in marketing.
    grow.gatech.edu

 

  • Innovation Ecosystems – Researcher
    The position entails performing various research and analysis tasks as part of the Innovation Ecosystems team. Under the direction of a project manager, the successful candidate will focus primarily in collecting data from internal and external sources, analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, and summarizing the findings in a draft report.
    grow.gatech.edu

 

  • Measuring University Performance (MUP)
    This student position will be requiring data analytic, excellent writing and communication skills to perform an evaluation regarding the measuring of university performance. This project will require a final report that contains information about the potential customer demand as well as competitive landscape for a consolidated performance report on the metrics of the top U.S. research universities. Responsibilities will include interfacing with top level academic leadership in understanding their perceived value of a metric report as suggested. It will also include looking at potential funding sources, and optimum data delivery format if the project is identified as desirable to a specific (to be identified) population. This process will include some internal training on our Customer Discovery process as well as familiarity with several databases to be able to assemble an investigative report.

 

  • Partnership for Inclusive Innovation – Marketing and Communications
    The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is looking for a Marketing and Communications Intern to provide content creation for our PIN pillars – Community Research, Student Engagement, Economic Opportunity, and Workforce Development. Intern will collaborate with the PIN team to create content for social media, monthly newsletter, and website. Ideal intern candidate will have excellent communication and writing skills, experience developing engaging social media content on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, be comfortable conducting external interviews, and work well independently as well as with team members. Daily duties may include:

    • Planning and developing social media calendar and posts
    • External interviews with students, partners, and others
    • Assist PIN team with marketing and media relations initiatives as needed
      pingeorgia.org

 

  • ScaleUp Lab and 404 Deep-Tech Project
    Operations and design intern will assist with logistics and set-up for showcase and other events by managing attendee lists, participate in planning and execution and serve as a general resource. Excellent communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills, and the ability to write professional communication and produce reports and design content are required.

 

  • Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub – Business Support Organizations
    The Hub is a pilot program, creating a blended network of entrepreneur ecosystems and resources to support minority business enterprises in eight southern states. On this project you will work with business support organizations (BSOs) to spread awareness of the Hub and introduce the benefits to organizations such as MBDA Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, incubators, accelerators, and more.
    businessgrowthhub.gatech.edu/

Enterprise 6 Internship Program Applications Open for Summer 2022

Under Enterprise 6, Georgia Tech students can work on dynamic economic development projects.

Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is now accepting applications for its competitive 2022 Enterprise 6 Summer Internship.

 

The 2022 cohort has 12 available slots and selected interns will engage in active projects that further the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s economic development mission. (See what the 2021 cohort of students said of their Enterprise 6 experiences here.)

 

The Enterprise 6 program is open to undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled at Georgia Tech for Spring 2022. Selected students will be mentored by a research faculty member. Enterprise 6 interns will meet remotely on a bi-weekly basis to share observations about their experiences.

 

The Enterprise Innovation Institute is the longest running, most diverse, university-based economic development organization in the United States. Since the launch of its founding program more than 60 years ago, the Enterprise Innovation Institute has grown to serve innovative enterprises of all sizes — from pre-company teams to startups to ongoing businesses — and energize the ecosystems in which they reside.

 

While Enterprise 6 positions are not for academic credit, the program does offer real world experience and compensation. The organization is offering $25 per hour for 20 hours per week of effort. The internships — which are sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research — begin May 2 and end July 29. Students will work remotely during the internship period, but they may be asked to work from the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s offices in Tech Square as needed depending upon the project they are working on and supporting.

 

There are 12 projects for this summer and interested students may apply to no more than 2 projects. See the project outlines from the application link: https://innovate.gatech.edu/enterprise-6-application/

 

  • EARN: $25 per hour (up to 20 hours per week).
  • OPPORTUNITY TO: Serve enterprises and communities of all sizes.
  • REQUIREMENTS: Must thrive on challenging projects in technology, business development, or ecosystem building.
  • ELIGIBILITY: Open to all Georgia Tech Students.
  • WHEN: May 2, 2022 to July 29, 2022.
  • LOCATION: Hybrid (work remotely and in Technology Square, Atlanta).
  • DEADLINE: Résumés due March 15, 2022.
  • APPLY: gatech.edu/enterprise-6-application/
  • QUESTIONS?… E-mail: ude.hcetag.etavonninull@diacnik

Georgia Tech Economic Development Agency University Center Seeks Applicants for Community Development Studies, Training

ATLANTA — The Georgia Tech Economic Development Agency (EDA) University Center is now accepting applications from communities in need of assistance to identify, define, and support its workforce talent.

 

To date, Georgia public health officials report more than 1.5 million cases and 26,621 deaths from Covid-19. The workforce analysis, which also includes the creation of skills development and talent pool programs, professional and leadership development, and core business training, is designed help communities recover from the economic impact of Covid-19.

 

The Georgia Tech EDA University Center will provide workforce development services at no charge to communities, with all costs covered by a grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

 

Juli Golemi is director of the Georgia Tech EDA University Center.

“As the state of Georgia builds its resiliency and maximizes economic development potential for its communities, our goal with the CARES Act grant is to offer services that combine data collection and analysis with a training-driven approach,” said Juli Golemi, director of Georgia Tech’s EDA University Center program manager. “We’re committed to comprehensive stakeholder engagement that builds local capacity and economically stronger communities across the state.”

 

In addition to the workforce assessments, which typically take 60 to 70 days to complete, the Georgia Tech EDA University Center will provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs, businesses, and communities to assist in their recovery efforts from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Finally, Golemi said the Georgia Tech team will conduct, share, and disseminate applied research to address specific challenges, meet defined needs, and solve select problems resulting from the coronavirus’ economic impact on communities, businesses, innovators, entrepreneurs, economic planners, and cluster-based industries.

 

“Assessing all the data and turning research into action, we will make recommendations to direct future workforce development efforts that help communities navigate the changes to their employment and occupation environments,” Golemi said.

 

TO APPLY, PLEASE NOTE:

 

About the Georgia Tech EDA University Center
The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its EDA University Center. As part of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the University Center has been assisting Georgia communities for more than 50 years. Its outreach activities promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and the development and expansion of regional economic ecosystems in Georgia and other states within the EDA’s Atlanta region (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). Since July 1, 2017, the Georgia Tech EDA University Center team has worked on 27 projects, with 2 currently in progress. As of May 2021, the program’s work has helped create or save 321 jobs, $10.2 million in private investment, and $30.7 million in public investment. To learn more, visit grow.gatech.edu/eda-university-center/grow.gatech.edu/eda-university-center/grow.gatech.edu/eda-university-center/.

EI2 Hosts Colombian Delegation for Bootcamp Training

The Enterprise Innovation Institute hosted a delegation of technology professionals from Colombia for a week long bootcamp on technology extension services.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute’s (EI2) Innovation Ecosystems program recently hosted a delegation of 43 Colombian professionals, including presidents and executives of the Chambers of Commerce, SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) instructors, and government officials during a week-long bootcamp program on Technology Extension Services (TES) Oct. 4-8.

This program is part of the EI2’s ongoing collaboration with Confecámaras and Colombia Productiva to support the design of a TES public policy and the implementation of the country’s signature Fábricas de Productividad program of technology extension.

Since 2017, the Innovation Ecosystems has trained a total of 155 Colombian professionals at Georgia Tech and assisted 40 companies in Colombia. The Fábricas de Productividad has served more than 3,300 companies since its launch in 2018. It is recognized as the largest and most successful national program of Technology Extension in Latin America and the Caribbean for its reach and impact in a short period of time.

U.S. Department of Labor Awards Worker Safety Health Training Grant to Georgia Tech

Institute is one of 37 recipients of newly available grants focused
on stopping spread of infectious disease, including Covid-19.

 

Sean Castillo is an industrial hygienist with the Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program in Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. He is the project lead on an OSHA grant awarded to Georgia Tech to provide Covid-19 training sessions to employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is awarding more than $6.7 million in grants to 37 nonprofit organizations and universities nationwide, including the Georgia Institute of Technology.

 

The grants will be used to fund education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus health hazards, and identify preventive measures for a safe workplace. In addition to hazard control, the training will include understanding workers’ rights and employer responsibilities under the OSHA Act of 1970.

 

Georgia Tech’s award will provide 1-hour and 6.5-hour Covid-19 training sessions to 475 employers and workers in the long-term healthcare and mortuary industries, through its Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program. The SHES training will focus on infectious disease awareness and prevention. Existing materials will be used, and the training will be conducted in English and Spanish. Additionally, SHES will collaborate with University of Georgia professor Toni Miles to integrate stress management and bereavement skills and training materials to provide this work-group population the tools necessary to address the health implications of grief.

 

Toni Miles is an epidemiology and biostatistics and health policy and management professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. UGA is working with Geogia Tech to implement the OSHA-funded Covid-19 training program.

“We are thankful to be included in this OSHA funding to advance awareness and understanding of disease risk and measures to take to mitigate exposure,” said SHES Director, Paul Schlumper. “A healthy and safe Georgia workplace environment is essential for employers and employees alike. This funding will be a critical part of our efforts in our continuous fight against the pandemic.”

 

An offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, SHES provides a broad range of occupational safety and health training, consulting services, and academic education to organizations in Georgia and the Southeast. In 2020, the SHES group helped employers remove nearly 36,000 workers from workplace hazards. SHES staff also identified nearly 1,500 workplace hazards in 2020.

 

The OSHA award includes “Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the novel coronavirus” grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grants derive from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA’s Office of Risk Assessment. In her 17-year OSHA career, she helped develop federal standards to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.

 

The program funds grants made available to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges, and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. These grants are a critical element in supporting OSHA’s role in educating workers on their rights and assisting employers with providing safe workplaces.

 

Learn more about the 2021 Susan Harwood Training Grant Program recipients.

Enterprise 6 Students Share Experiences in Working on Economic Development Projects

Six Georgia Tech students spent the summer working on various economic development projects as embedded Enterprise 6 (E6) interns in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).

 

The six interns were selected from more than 200 students who applied for the slots for the inaugural internship cohort.

 

The 13-week, paid internship was funded by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and open to all Tech undergraduate and graduate students.

 

As Georgia Tech’s economic development arm, EI2 is comprised of a dozen programs across a host of sectors ranging from manufacturing and technology entrepreneurship, to minority business and community and regional planning and development.

 

“We were really excited about this opportunity and grateful for the support from EVPR’s office,” said David Bridges, EI2’s interim vice president. “We had students from a variety of disciplines including industrial engineering and economics and city planning.

 

“One of our goals with this was to show these students how they could use what they are learning in the classroom and the skills they are learning all have uses and applications in economic development.”

 

The students worked on challenging projects that allowed them to use their skills and classroom learning and apply that to economic development initiatives.

 

Mansi Mahajan, a graduate student studying quantitative and computational finance, interned with the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private effort launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the technology capital of the East Coast.

 

“We’re building a fund for investing in social impact startups, so I developed the financial model for the process and how it would be forecasted and what the returns would be depending on our investments,” she said. “I hadn’t worked in the finance field as much as I did in this internship, so this I found very rewarding and it was a very great experience working with them.”

 

For Dylan Both, an economics major in the Ivan Allen College for Liberal Arts, the E6 opportunity was his first internship.

 

Both worked with the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR), which works with local communities, governments, and regional economic development organizations on a variety of initiatives, including impact analyses reports, strategic planning, and professional development.

 

Both researched best practices that communities around the country developed following natural disasters to evaluate for a recovery and resilience plan being created for southwest Georgia.

 

“Southwest Georgia suffered from Hurricane Michael and COVID. I was finding similar areas, similar regions that suffered from a natural disaster. And whatever best practices we learned from those, we gathered them up, chose which ones would be a good fit, and wrote about it,” he said. “My favorite thing was doing actual meaningful work.”

 

See what all the students shared about their experiences as E6 interns:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

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.