Bold Move to Columbus, Georgia Marks First Semiconductor Manufacturer in Region

CHIPS4CHIPS strategy, Georgia Tech collaboration, prove successful

Prashant Patil at meeting
Prashant Patil, founder and CEO of Micromize, explains to a coalition of business, civic, and military stakeholders from Columbus, Georgia and Georgia Tech leaders why he opted to relocate his company to Columbus, Georgia from Massachusetts. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

COLUMBUS and ATLANTA, GA — Innovative partnering proved successful as CHIPS4CHIPS announced the locating of the first semiconductor manufacturer in the Chattahoochee Valley. Micromize, a pioneering semiconductor manufacturer specializing in energy-efficient electronics for wearables and mobile devices, has chosen Columbus as the location for its inaugural manufacturing facility.

The move is the result of strategic partnerships between Micromize, CHIPS4CHIPS (Chattahoochee Hub for Innovation and Production of Semiconductors/C4C), and several programs at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, including its Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), its Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Center for Economic Development Research. It also signifies a collaborative effort to harness the cutting-edge innovations in semiconductor packaging available at Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology.

“Our decision to locate in Columbus was driven by several crucial factors and we are thrilled about the opportunities that this vibrant city presents for our growth and development,” said Prashant Patil, Micromize founder and CEO. “The work of CHIPS4CHIPS in supporting the semiconductor industry is commendable, and we are excited to be part of this innovative ecosystem.”

This exciting development was announced Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the Marcus Nanotechnology Center on Georgia Tech’s campus to a large group of state legislators and other state officials, a delegation of business and civic leaders from Columbus, and leadership from Georgia Tech and ATDC. This announcement is a true look at how statewide partnerships can lead to success for the Columbus region.

Micromize, a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, selected Georgia as its new home in part, to take advantage of the semiconductor packaging expertise at Georgia Tech. The company plans to establish its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Columbus, further solidifying its presence in the state’s vibrant technology ecosystem. Additionally, Micromize will center its cutting-edge research and development on Georgia Tech’s campus.

“The collaboration with Micromize is a significant milestone for CHIPS4CHIPS and the entire region,” said Ben Moser, president and CEO of United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley and Chair of CHIPS4CHIPS. “This announcement marks the first of what we believe will be many to come, and we are thankful that Micromize recognizes the potential of our region for this industry. Columbus is poised for remarkable development, and we look forward to the positive impact that Micromize will bring to our community.”

The strategic relocation is expected to create significant economic opportunities in the region. Micromize will bring 20-25 jobs to Columbus through its headquarters and manufacturing facility, contributing to the local workforce, and fostering growth.

Micromize will center its Research & Development Lab at Georgia Tech’s 3D Systems Packaging Research Center, which is regarded as the world’s best for semiconductor packaging research. This partnership represents a synergistic collaboration of industry leaders, research institutions, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Micromize’s move to Columbus not only underscores the city’s growing prominence as a technology hub but also highlights the collaborative efforts driving innovation and economic development in the state of Georgia.

In addition to C4C’s nationally recognized workforce development efforts, the Fort Moore army base, and its skilled workforce, the region’s proximity to a port and airport will facilitate efficient shipping, and Columbus played a pivotal role in supporting the company by providing essential infrastructure, he said.

 “Our collaboration with Georgia Tech enriches our talent pool, adds exponentially to our research and development capabilities, and access to mentorship at ATDC enhances our commercialization potential,” Patil said. “We are also proud to be part of the effort to revitalize semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, with Columbus serving as our starting point as we embark on this exciting journey of growth and innovation.”

Georgia Tech, a leader in microchips and nanotechnology research, innovation, and fabrication, provides a fertile ground for Micromize’s relocation. The Institute’s commitment to advancing semiconductor technology aligns with the national push at the federal level (via the CHIPS and Science Act) to bring more semiconductor production to the U.S., making it more competitive in research, development, and manufacturing.

“As the state’s technology startup incubator, we’re excited to welcome Micromize into our portfolio and to support them into the next phase of growth and expansion,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

“Microchips, semiconductor packaging and microelectronics are critical to our national economy and national security. Micromize’s choosing Georgia as its home to grow reflects what is proving to be a successful model when business, government, and research institutions such as Georgia Tech collaborate.”

About Micromize
Micromize is a leading provider of energy-efficient electronics for wearables and mobile devices. With a foundation rooted in MIT research in semiconductor packaging, Micromize is at the forefront of technological innovation, creating solutions that empower the future of electronics.

About CHIPS4CHIPS
CHIPS4CHIPS (Chattahoochee Hub for Innovation and Production of Semiconductors) is a dynamic bi-state, multi-county coalition in the Chattahoochee Valley, uniting hundreds of individuals, organizations, and businesses, as well as the public and private sector.  C4C’s vision positions our region as the southeast leader in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. C4C’s efforts will bolster the domestic semiconductor industry, contribute to regional economic growth, support national security, and reduce poverty through the creation of well-paying jobs. With the industry’s significant U.S. expansion, C4C strategically aligns with the public, business, and educational sectors to foster a skilled semiconductor value chain.

About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition.

The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 46,000 students, representing 50 states and more than 150 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning.

As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

About ATDC
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, is the state’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC has grown to become the longest running and one of the most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit atdc.org.

Center for MedTech Excellence Host SBA Leaders for Summit on Local Startup Ecosystem

Visit to gather information on challenges startups face from government support

When the Center for MedTech Excellence launched in the fall of 2022, it sought to tackle the challenges that early-stage medical device and biotech companies face in successfully getting to market.

Nakia Melecio, MedTech Center of Excellence director, addresses the SBA officials visiting the Tech campus to hear from startup founders. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

Since then, the MedTech Center, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, has worked with and evaluated 208 companies. It has 66 active startups in its portfolio and helped them to get $9.5 million in venture capital funding, and $3.5 million in non-dilutive grants from the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer federal programs. Those portfolio companies have created a total of 174 jobs.

Dilawar Syed is the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration. (PHOTO Chris Ruggiero)

“We’re bringing the best of the resources together to make sure that we’re creating an innovative ecosystem that supports our scientists,” MedTech Center Director Nakia Melecio said at a Jan. 9 meeting with Small Business Administration (SBA) Deputy Administrator Dilawar Syed.

Syed and officials from the SBA were in Atlanta as part of a multi-city tour to hear from entrepreneurs, their challenges, and what the agency could do better to help them succeed.

“There is so much focus on driving innovation in the present administration,” Syed said during his visit at Georgia Tech. “This program is a successful program. We want to make sure it becomes relevant for the next generation of entrepreneurs, especially in communities of color, especially in regions like Atlanta that often have not been at the forefront of driving innovation.”

SBA officials met with several MedTech Center portfolio companies and heard what their main challenges were, chief among them being timing for grants and what’s considered too early in a startup’s lifecycle when it comes to seeking funds from federal agencies.

Nikhil L. Shah, CEO and co-founder of Nephrodite, shared some of the pain points his company had after getting initial funding for its fully implantable continuous dialysis device for patients with end-stage renal disease.

Even though the company had received a $1.8 million grant from a German government agency, it faced several hurdles with U.S. federal funding agencies.

“We applied for the NSF [National Science Foundation] at first and we had that conundrum where they said, ‘you know, this is really early technology. It’s too early,’” he said. “We applied to NIH [National Institutes of Health], but they said, ‘you haven’t done animal studies. We really need animal studies.’ I said, well, I need money to do all that.”

Mason Chilmonczyk, is CEO and co-founder of Andson Biotech, a MedTech Center of Excellence portfolio company. (PHOTO: Chris Ruggiero)

It was similar to the experience of Mason Chilmonczyk, CEO and co-founder of Andson Biotech, a company focused on accelerating the discovery, development, and manufacturing of advanced cell-based therapies.

He and his team sought out program officers with the agency to get guidance before pitching or applying for funds. But he said they were told they were not far enough along in product development, or they were too advanced in the company’s lifecycle.

“You’re too early, this tool is too experimental, or you have too much traction,” he said. “It’s like, it’s too developed almost.”

He and other founders who met with SBA officials welcome support from federal agencies and appreciate the rigorous evaluations process for medical device and life science companies. But the founders who spoke said it would be helpful to know exactly what federal agencies want and more specifics on why a given grant application was rejected.

“I only get a couple pages of feedback…one of the things we need is to just have better education, so you choose to invest your time or not.”

It’s a message that Syed said he would take back to Washington.

“It just strikes me every time we hear from founders how much more work we have to do to drive awareness,” he said, noting it must be an interagency effort. “It’s the entire federal government and SBA’s job is to coordinate that for everyone — better coordination, better communication, make sure people understand whether they’re ready to apply for this or not.”

GaMEP and Partners Show West Georgia Students Career Possibilities in Manufacturing

LAGRANGE, Ga. — Manufacturing is one of the most important sectors in Georgia’s economy.

The industry generated $64.9 billion in total output in 2021, up 36% from $47.5 billion in 2011, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. The industry employs 402,000 with average annual compensation $75,511.

Despite growth, students in middle and high school still see manufacturing as dull and dingy and reminiscent of old textile mills plants.

It’s why the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) and the Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM) at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, partnered with several organizations in LaGrange to show students what modern manufacturing is all about.

The event, which also included the Development Authority of LaGrange, the Georgia Association of Manufacturers, and the West Georgia Technical College as partners, was tied to October 6 — National Manufacturing Day.

The goal was to showcase the wide range of opportunities in today’s advanced manufacturing, which still includes textiles and mills, but also pharmaceuticals and medicine, aerospace, food, and supplies, among other industries.

The more than 1,300 middle and high school-aged students who attended were able to meet with local industry partners such as Duracell and Mountville Mills, participate in hands-on demos of manufacturing technology, and learn about available training programs and educational opportunities.

They also participated in an interactive coding activity with Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC), as part of the Georgia AIM initiative. That program seeks to revolutionize Georgia the industrial economy of Georgia through the development and deployment of talent and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) for all manufacturing sectors.

GaMEP also featured Manufacturing x Digital‘s cyber box to show students how the right technology can prevent cyber attacks.

“Today’s technology is unbelievable,” said Scott Malone, president of the the Development Authority of LaGrange. “It’s really helping these kids, these young adults understand this is the future of what workforce is about. There’s lots of opportunity in manfacturing.”

EI2 Programs Help Keep Georgia Businesses Lean and Healthy

by Jerry Grillo

Trey Sawyers, Katie Hines, and Sean Castillo are helping keep Georgia businesses lean and safe. (Photo: Jerry Grillo)

Sean Castillo is in the win-win business. As an industrial hygienist in the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), his job is to ensure that employees are safe in their workspaces, and when he does that, he simultaneously improves a company’s performance.

That’s been a theme for Castillo and his colleagues in the Safety, Health, Environmental Services (SHES) program and their partners in the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), part of EI2’s suite of programs aimed at helping Georgia businesses thrive.

“A healthier workforce is healthy for business,” said Castillo, part of the SHES team of consultants who often work closely with their GaMEP counterparts to improve safety while also maximizing productivity.

This team of experts from EI2 assist companies trying to reach that critical intersection of both, combining smart ergonomics and safety enhancements with lean manufacturing practices. This can solve human performance gaps due to fatigue, heat, or some other environmental stressor, while helping businesses continue to improve their production processes and, ultimately, their bottom line.

These stressors cost U.S. industry billions of dollars each year — fatigue, for example, is responsible for about $136 billion in lost productivity.

“Protecting your employee — investing in safety now — saves a lot of money later,” Castillo said. “It equates to less money spent on workers compensation and less employee turnover, which means less time training new employees, and that ideally leads to a more efficient process in the workplace.”

It takes careful and intentional collaboration to bring those moving pieces together, and inextricably linked programs like SHES and GaMEP can help orchestrate all of that.

Ensuring Safe Workspaces

SHES is staffed by safety consultants, like Castillo, who provide a free and essential service to Georgia businesses. They help companies ensure that they meet or exceed the standards set by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), mainly through SHES’ flagship OSHA 21(d) Consultation Program.

“Our job is to ensure that workspaces and processes are designed so that anybody can perform the work safely,” said Trey Sawyers, a safety, health, and ergonomics consultant on the SHES team, aiding small and mid-sized businesses in Georgia. When a company reaches out to SHES to apply for the free, confidential OSHA consultation program, a consultant like Sawyers gets assigned to the task, “based on our area of expertise,” said Sawyers, an expert in ergonomics, which is the science of designing and adapting a workspace to efficiently suit the physical and mental needs and limitations of workers.

“If a company is having ergonomic issues — maybe they’re experiencing a lot of strains and sprains — then I might get the call because of my knowledge and understanding of anthropometry, and then I’ll go take a close look at the facility,” Sawyers said. Anthropometry is the scientific study of a human’s size, form, and functional capacity.

SHES consultants can identify potential workplace hazards, provide guidance on how to comply with OSHA standards, and establish or improve safety and health programs in the company.

“The caveat is the company has to correct any serious hazards that we find,” said Castillo, who visits a wide range of workspaces in his role. For instance, his job will take him to construction and manufacturing sites, gun ranges, even office settings. “We do noise and air monitoring at all different types of workplaces. I was at a primary care clinic the other day. And over the past few years, we’ve had a significant emphasis on stone fabricators, looking for overexposures to respirable crystalline silica.”

Silica, which is dust residue from the process of creating marble and quartz slabs, can lead to a lung disease called silicosis. OSHA established new limits that cut the permissible exposure limits in half, and that has kept the SHES consultants busy as Georgia manufacturers try to achieve and maintain compliance.

Keeping Companies Cool

Another area of growing emphasis for Georgia Tech’s consultants is heat-related stress in the workplace.

“Currently, there are no standards to address this,” Castillo said. “For example, there are no rules that say a construction site worker should drink this much water. There are suggested guidelines and emphasis programs for inspections for targeted industries where heat stress may be prevalent — but no standards, though that is coming.”

The SHES team is trying to stay ahead of what will likely be new federal rules for heat mitigation. To help develop safe standards and better understand the effects of heat on workers, consultants like Castillo are going to construction sites, plant nurseries, and warehouses, and enlisting volunteers in field studies. Using heat stress monitor armbands, they’re monitoring data on workers’ core body temperatures and heart rates.

“These tools are great because we’re not only gathering some good data, but we can use them proactively to prevent heat events such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be fatal if left untreated,” Castillo said.

To further help educate Georgia companies about the risks of heat-related problems, SHES applied for and recently won a Susan Harwood Training Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The $160,000 award will support SHES consultants’ efforts to further their work in heat stress education so that “companies and workers will understand the warning signs and the potential effects of heat stress, and how they can stay safe,” Castillo said. “We’re sure this will all become part of OSHA standards eventually, and we’d like to help our clients stay ahead of the curve to protect their employees.”

OSHA standards are the law, and while larger corporations routinely hire consulting firms to keep them on the straight and narrow, SHES is providing the same level of expertise for its smaller business clients for free. Most of those clients apply for help through SHES’ online request form. And others find the help they need through the guidance of process improvement specialist Katie Hines and her colleagues in GaMEP.

Lean and Safe

Hines came to her appreciation of ergonomics naturally. After graduating from Auburn University, she entered the workforce as a manufacturing engineer for a building materials company, where “it was just part of our day-to-day work life in that manufacturing environment, on the production floor,” she said.

It took grad school and a deeper focus on lean and continuous improvement processes to formalize that appreciation.

While working toward her master’s degree in chemical engineering at Auburn, Hines earned a certificate in occupational safety and ergonomics (like Sawyers, her SHES colleague). At the same time, Hines was helping to guide her company’s lean and continuous improvement program. And when she joined Proctor and Gamble after completing her degree, “The lean concept and safety best practices were fully ingrained, part of the daily discussion there,” she said.

All those hands-on manufacturing production floor experiences managing people and systems prepared Hines well for her current role as a project manager on GaMEP’s Operational Excellence team, where her focus is entirely on lean and continuous improvement work — that is, helping companies reduce waste and improve production while also enhancing safety and ergonomics.

Hines uses her expertise in knowing how manufacturing processes and people should look when everyone is safe and also productive. She can walk into a GaMEP client’s facility and drive the process improvements and solutions that will help them achieve a leaner, more efficient form of production. And then, when she sees the need, Hines will recommend the client contact SHES, “the people who have their fingers on the data and the expertise to improve safety.”

These were concepts that, for a long time, seemed to be working against each other — the very idea of maximizing production and improving profits while also emphasizing worker safety and comfort.

“But you can have both,” Castillo said. “You should have both.”

Association of Public Land-grant Universities to Give Public Impact Research Award to Partnership for Inclusive Innovation

APLU’s Council on Research Award is one of three
presented to research institutes of higher learning

ATLANTA — The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has named the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology the 2023 winner of its Public Impact Research Award. It is one of three announced by the APLU’s Council on Research (COR), which also included the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Research Award) and the University of New Hampshire (Research Safety and Accountability Award).

Group shot student interns
The 2023 PIN Summer Internship Class, comprised of 63 students, supported 35 projects in 15 communities in Georgia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chris Ruggiero)

“Congratulations to this year’s COR Award winners,” Howard Gobstein, senior vice president for STEM Education and Research Policy and advisor to the president at APLU, said in a statement. “We’re delighted to recognize their leadership and outstanding work done in advancing public impact research, diversity and inclusion in university research, and enhancing safety.”

APLU, based in Washington, D.C., is a research, policy, and advocacy association of more than 250 research universities and land-grant institutions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The Public Impact Research Award recognizes multi-project research efforts focused on community and public impact.

The Partnership, formed in 2020, is a regional public-private consortium tasked with leading strategic, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success.

APLU noted the Partnership’s work to foster collaborative projects across 34 institutes of higher learning, including historically Black colleges and universities. In 2023, the Partnership’s Student Engagement program brought 63 student interns from 25 universities across the country to work on 35 projects in 15 communities.

Other Partnership efforts have led to more than 45 multidisciplinary researchers focusing on community-driven needs such as increasing the use of data science at small and mid-sized farms across the state of Georgia to enhance production. Another project, in Valdosta, Georgia, led to improved emergency vehicle response timesthrough the implementation of traffic signal preemption technology. Overall, the $2.36 million in funding awarded by the Partnership to support projects has garnered an additional $17.3 million in funding from other sources.

“We are honored to have been selected for this recognition,” said Debra Lam, the Partnership’s founding executive director. “Tackling the complex challenges our communities face requires novel approaches to how we innovate. By leveraging the unique strengths of the public and private sectors, our model at the Partnership proves we can have substantive impact that promotes geographic and community inclusion and supports economic mobility for overall shared economic success.”

The APLU award is the second such recognition received by Georgia Tech. In 2014, the APLU named Georgia Tech one of four recipients of its Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Awards. Georgia Tech was selected because of its efforts through its Enterprise Innovation Institute, the oldest and largest university-based economic development organization of its kind in the country.

“Improving the human condition through research, and more importantly, applying those research innovations to solving real-world challenges, has been our core focus since our founding in in 1885,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for Research. “The Partnership is the embodiment of that mission and our continued commitment to economic development in Georgia and beyond.”

About the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of more than 250 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.5 billion in university-based research.

About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its nearly 48,000undergraduate and graduate students, representing 50 states and more than 148 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting $1.45 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

About the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation

Launched in 2020, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation is a public-private organization that was created to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the leader for innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success. The Partnership’s focus pillars of community research, workforce development, student engagement, and economic opportunity are a powerful combination that provide technical and financial support to democratize innovation through collaboration. Since 2020, the Partnership’s work has catalyzed 100+ projects with local governments, universities, startups, and nonprofits. The projects have created new businesses, increased access to financial and social capital, and deployed more than 200 technologies. More information is available at pingeorgia.org.

ManTech Partners With Georgia Institute of Technology’s ATDC to Drive Innovative Cyber Security and Emerging Technologies for Government

ManTech to support development of cyber technology entrepreneurs and startups

Joe Cubba is ManTech’s executive vice president and chief growth officer.

HERNDON, VA and ATLANTA (Sept. 28, 2023) — ManTech today announced a partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center to support the growth and acceleration of startups built on cybersecurity-related technologies and emerging innovations.

The announcement marks ATDC’s first such agreement with a federal systems integrator. Leveraging ManTech’s deep government experience, the partnership will help entrepreneurs in ATDC’s Cyber and Emerging Technologies Program develop innovative, disruptive solutions that target and resolve federal agencies’ most pressing and difficult challenges.

ManTech provides advanced, mission-focused technology solutions and services for every branch of the federal government including the Department of Defense, intelligence community, and federal civilian agencies.

“ManTech is proud to work with ATDC in an industry-leading initiative that will accelerate government access to highly differentiated cyber and emerging tech solutions with the potential to stop even the most insidious cyberattacks on contact,” said Joe Cubba, ManTech executive vice president and chief growth officer. “Together, we are turning today’s next-gen innovators into the technology thought leaders and giants of the future.”

ATDC, the state of Georgia’s technology incubator, works with entrepreneurs to build, scale, and launch successful technology companies. Since its founding in 1980, ATDC has provided coaching, curriculum, community, connections, and access to capital and customers. Among the many benefits for young technology ventures, this partnership builds on ATDC’s platform with training and mentoring on how startups can grow their business with funding by the government’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

“Small companies need a proven systems integrator like ManTech to drive government introductions, integrate and deploy their technology, and show how it can make a real difference in supporting the mission,” said Corbett Gilliam, ATDC’s manager of corporate development. “ManTech and ATDC are bringing today and tomorrow’s Edisons and Teslas deep inside the very operations that keep this nation safe.”

As part of the partnership, ATDC has hired Blair Tighe to lead the vertical. In that role, Tighe, a U.S. Army veteran with a combined background of private sector cyber strategy and emerging technologies, will manage the pipeline, evaluate technologies, and coach companies.

He will leverage ATDC’s Connect program and expertise to secure opportunities for pilot projects, investments, and customers. He also will work with ManTech to mentor companies and host classes and educational programming built around the specific needs of the cyber and emerging tech sector.

The cyber focus comes as ATDC is seeing increased startup activity from entrepreneurs and founders in the cybersecurity space. The portfolio already has 12 companies in its incubator program.

About ManTech
ManTech provides mission-focused technology solutions and services for U.S. defense, intelligence, and federal civilian agencies. In business more than 54 years, we excel in full-spectrum cyber operations, data collection and analytics, enterprise IT, agile DevOps systems engineering, and software application development solutions that support national and homeland security. Additional information about ManTech can be found at mantech.com.

About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology, or Georgia Tech, is one of the top public research universities in the U.S., developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. The Institute offers business, computing, design, engineering, liberal arts, and sciences degrees. Its more than 45,000 undergraduate and graduate students, representing 50 states and more than 148 countries, study at the main campus in Atlanta, at campuses in France and China, and through distance and online learning. As a leading technological university, Georgia Tech is an engine of economic development for Georgia, the Southeast, and the nation, conducting more than $1.0 billion in research annually for government, industry, and society.

About the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC)
The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), a program of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is the state of Georgia’s technology startup incubator. Founded in 1980 by the Georgia General Assembly, which funds it each year, ATDC’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs in Georgia to help them learn, launch, scale, and succeed in the creation of viable, disruptive technology companies. Since its founding, ATDC, a program of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, has grown to become the longest running and one of the most successful university-affiliated incubators in the United States, with its graduate startup companies raising $3 billion in investment financing and generating more than $12 billion in revenue in the state of Georgia. To learn more, visit atdc.org.

Georgia Tech EDA University Center Funds Redevelopment and Housing Studies for Two Georgia Towns

Analyses to help community leaders create long-term
residential home development growth strategies
The Depot building.
The AB&A Historic Train Depot in Fitzgerald, Georgia, is one of the community’s key attractions. The Depot is home to the Blue & Gray Museum, the Genealogy Research Center, and Collins Railroad Collection.

FITZGERALD, Ga. — In many ways, this South Georgia town boasts the best of small rural communities. Just 23 miles east of Interstate 75, Fitzgerald has a busy downtown thoroughfare with shops, antique stores, and eateries. It has a modern airport with a 5,000-foot runway, an active mainline railroad, and industrial parks. It’s also home to a museum with a nod to its 1895 beginnings as a community and haven for veterans who fought on both sides of the Civil War.

Fitzgerald also has a successful history of industrial recruitment that has provided the community with a significant manufacturing base. Recent capital investments in wood products, food and beverage processing, plastics, and manufacturing have increased employment, personal income growth, and the community’s GDP.

With its local economy steadily improving, this community of 9,000 is also looking to boost its new home development construction activity. Now, city leaders and officials from surrounding Ben Hill County are working with the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and EDA University Center at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to produce a study to figure out a viable strategy.

The study is funded in part through an Economic Development Research Program (EDRP) grant, which is administered by the EDA University Center. These grants are targeted toward economically distressed communities that can’t afford the cost of this type of comprehensive economic development research. EDA University Center grants offset some expenses that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive to rural communities.

CEDR is conducting the six-month research and analysis project in Fitzgerald, which entails looking at housing that’s for sale, determining what the rental rates are, and developing housing development strategy recommendations for the entire city, said Betsy McGriff, a CEDR associate project manager and lead researcher on the study. It will also include ways to maximize cost effective development strategies, such as new home construction in historic neighborhoods to help revitalize them.

“Our objective is to get a much better understanding of the factors that are deterring new home development,” said Jason Dunn, executive director of the Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority. “We want to create more homeownership and have the data needed to influence new residential development in Ben Hill County.

Jason Dunn portrait
Jason Dunn is executive director of the Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority.

The need for the Fitzgerald study comes as the community has seen increased demand for more housing with options in both single family, owner-occupied homes, as well as rentals. But the city’s existing inventory isn’t enough to meet the demand, nor is it energy efficient, comprised of buildings that are at least 100 years old.

“We believe the study will give us the market data needed to pursue a public-private partnership to meet the community needs and lead to residential development that will provide housing solutions in one of Georgia’s most rural areas,” Dunn said.

CEDR is also doing a nine-month study for the City of Jefferson Downtown Development Authority, located in North Georgia’s Jackson County, about 22 miles northwest of Athens. That multifaceted project, which is also partly funded by an EDRP grant, includes a housing market analysis to create a strategy to get more residential housing units built closer to its downtown.

It also includes a retail market analysis to determine what goods and services are needed in the area. It also includes visioning sessions to advise the Downtown Development Authority and help its leaders prioritize strategies and future steps needed for maximum community impact.

The Missing Middle

The two projects reflect the growing housing challenge that scores of communities face across the country said Alan Durham, a CEDR researcher and director of the Basic Economic Development Course.

“Across the U.S., right now we’re short about 4 million housing units. And a lot of those missing units are entry level affordable housing, and workforce housing for police, fire fighters, nurses, and teachers. That’s what’s called the missing middle,” said Durham, who has been researching the national trends and leads the Jefferson project research.

As costs rise, developers are trending toward building very high-end homes. While the high-end housing market is doing well, not enough at the other end — entry-level housing — is being built, squeezing out a market segment communities need to attract.

“Millennials and Gen Z, they can’t even get their foot in the door in the housing market anymore,” Durham said. “The ideal range on housing expenditures is 25% to 30% of gross income. In reality, many are spending over 50% of their wages on housing, leaving them cash-poor to deal with basic necessities and unforeseen expenses.”

Part of the research CEDR will do includes data analyses of both communities. The research will break both communities into their respective income tiers to see how many people make a set amount of money per year, Durham said.

Based on the different income tiers, the CEDR analyses in Fitzgerald and Jefferson will guide the types of housing price points leaders in both communities should pursue.

Detailed Analysis

In addition to the income tiers and bands major employers in each community pay, the CEDR studies will analyze employee commuting patterns, where residents shop for staple goods and services, and other factors that shape where people decide to live.

“These are very rural markets so our work to pull meaningful and actionable data will be different than in a metro area where it’s a little clearer or there’s just more data to be had,” McGriff said. “Our focus and approach will be a lot more granular to assess the demands of a rural market and pull out really meaningful data.”

Armed with that data, both communities will be positioned to develop strategies for targeted engagement with the right mix of investors and developers, McGriff said.

“They’re going to have to sell their communities to investors using the data we produce and the recommendations that we develop together for development strategies,” McGriff said. “These EDA University Center grants are really an investment tool for economic development, and they can leverage that money to attract investments to their communities, which could lead to more jobs and increased tax base, which just then cycles into helping these communities thrive.”

About the Georgia Tech EDA University Center
The Georgia Tech EDA University Center is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its EDA University Center program. Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Tech EDA University Center supports outreach activities that seek to promote job creation, development of high-skilled regional talent pools, business expansion in innovation clusters, and create and nurture regional economic ecosystems in the state of Georgia and other states within the EDA Atlanta region (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee). The Center’s primary focus areas are innovation-led ecosystem support for universities and communities and strategic economic development support for distressed communities. To learn more, please visit grow.gatech.edu/eda-university-center.

About the Center for Economic Development Research
The Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) is a collaborative team of economists, city planners, and economic development practitioners. Our talented economic development professionals have the research and implementation experience needed to help economic developers, community leaders, and industries alike understand the opportunities and challenges in fostering local economic development. CEDR is a unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Tech’s chief business outreach and economic development organization. To learn more, please visit cedr.gatech.edu.

Grenzebach: Putting Safety First

Customer Profile

Grenzebach is a privately owned, family-run company based in Germany, with 1,600 employees worldwide and 100 employees at its Newnan, Georgia, facility. Primarily a material handling manufacturer, Grenzebach produces large conveying systems for the glass industry and for James Hardie, makers of exterior siding products. The company also produces solar glass and manufactures electric automated guided vehicles for use in moving materials from place to place inside distribution facilities.

Situation

Prior to 2012, Grenzebach’s Newnan plant was experiencing too many recordable injuries, said Ken Pinkerton, head of facilities, quality, safety, and environmental at the Newnan location. From 2009 through 2013, the company averaged five recordable injuries per year, and one year the company had 10. Despite a long-time commitment to creating a safe and healthy workplace, leaders realized they needed to do something to bring those numbers down.

The place to start was with Georgia Tech’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES) program, a part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and the state’s on-site consultant for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The on-site consultation program provides small business owners with no-cost advisory services to address hazards and improve workplace safety and health without fear of citations or penalties. Pinkerton has a long relationship with Georgia Tech, including receiving his Industrial, Health, and Safety Certification through Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE).

Solution

In 2012, Grenzebach began working with SHES to pursue OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) certification. SHARP recognizes small businesses that operate exemplary safety and health programs. To qualify for SHARP, Grenzebach — and all businesses — must:

  • Request comprehensive consultation visits in safety and health that include a hazard identification survey;
  • Involve employees in the consultation process;
  • Correct all hazards identified by the consultant;
  • Implement and maintain health and safety programs as specified by OSHA;
  • Maintain days away, restricted, or transferred (DART) rates and total recordable case (TRC) rates below the national industry average;
  • Agree to notify the state consultant prior to making changes to working conditions in a facility.

Achieving SHARP status confers a number of benefits on a business. SHARP certified companies provide protection to workers through the development and implementation of best safety and health practices; create a culture that values health and safety; build a reputation for safety within their industry; save money; and are granted an exemption from OSHA programmed inspections for up to two years and subsequent renewal for up to three years.

“The real benefits to SHARP,” said Paul Schlumper, director of the SHES program, “are the improvements that a company makes in its safety and health management system to help provide a better work environment for employees. Another really big benefit is the prestige. A company can advertise the fact that they’re serious about safety and health. I think that means something to their customers and their employees.”

Results

SHARP has been so successful for the company that Grenzebach has renewed its certification each year since 2012.

“What the SHARP certification allowed us to do is open our eyes to some of the different hazards that we took for granted every day,” Pinkerton said. And noticing those hazards has led to drastic decreases in recordable incidents for the facility.

“Since 2014, the number of recordable incidents has dropped 85%, and we are now significantly below the industry average,” Pinkerton said. “We’ve had a few milestones where we have gone a year without a recordable injury, 365 days. In fact, we recently met that goal again. But we had never gone a complete calendar year without one, until 2020.”

To achieve those stellar results, Grenzebach listened to the suggestions of the SHES team, including a safety committee that meets monthly, and implemented processes that include a focus on cleanliness. “If you don’t have a clean environment, you’re not going to have a safe environment,” Pinkerton said.

SHES helped Grenzebach empower workers to correct any hazards that they see. “If you see that broken pallet on the floor, instead of walking over it, our employees now pick it up and put it in the designated place. It removes that hazard from existence,” Pinkerton said.

Achieving SHARP certification does not mean that SHES is no longer involved. In fact, that is often just the beginning of a collaboration with a company.

“The relationship we’ve built with Georgia Tech and SHES over this process has been very beneficial,” Pinkerton said. “If I have any type of question that has to do with OSHA, or has to do with safety in general, they are able to help me. They will go above and beyond. If I have an employee concerned about the air quality or noise level in the plant, they’ll do an air quality check or a noise level check anytime I call and ask them to do it. And they provide those free of charge.”

That relationship delivers a level of security that dealing with OSHA may not bring.

“If I see changes coming in OSHA, I can contact the SHES group to get information,” Pinkerton said. “They’re my liaison to OSHA. I don’t have to contact OSHA to get an answer to a question. I can contact Georgia Tech and get that same answer, and not feel the anxiety that a person may feel contacting OSHA.”

The commitment to safety has worked its way through the entire organization, Pinkerton said.

“The people on the floor see that we legitimately care about their safety,” he said. “It’s not how fast can you make a product and get it out the door. The main thing is safety. How safely can you make that product? The atmosphere has completely changed when it comes to safety. That’s what you want. You’re trying to build a safety culture in your facility, and not have employees do something because I tell them to do it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Testimonial

“The SHES group is as loyal to me as I am to them. When it comes to the safety of people in the workforce, they take their jobs very seriously. I tell people all the time about SHARP and that they should become SHARP certified. The main thing that I would say about Georgia Tech and their consultation program is that they care. They don’t come in just trying to find something wrong. They come in and try to find ways for us to improve.” – Ken Pinkerton, head of facilities, quality, safety, and environmental at Grenzebach in Newnan, Georgia

Georgia MBDA Business Center Client Scores “Major” Win

A Big Night for Client Next Play 360° and Scoot Henderson

Group photo
Scoot Henderson (center), a Georgia MBDA Business Center client, celebrates with family and friends following his joining the NBA in the 2023 draft.

The Georgia MBDA Business Center congratulates Scoot Henderson and his parents, Crystal and Chris Henderson, co-founders of portfolio client Next Play 360°, for Scoot’s selection in June by the Portland Trail Blazers as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Scoot, formerly the youngest player in the NBA G-League, spent the past two years playing for the G-League team Ignite. 

Next Play 360° is dedicated to developing the whole person through a robust program that focuses on four core pillars: athletics, academics, leadership, and community. Through this program,  Next Play 360° helps student athletes like Scoot become as competitive in the classroom as on the court and change what they think is possible for their futures.

“We could not be more thrilled for Scoot, Crystal, and Christ Henderson,” said  Jennifer Pasley, the Georgia MBDA Business Center’s project director.

The Center has been working with Next Play 360° to secure SBA financing to purchase a multi-sports complex in Marietta, Georgia.

“Through our work with Next Play 360°, we have been fortunate to have a front-row seat to Scoot’s incredible NBA journey, and we wish him the best of luck in this exciting new endeavor.”

Creating Communities that Draw People and Business Under the New Workplace Model

56th Annual Basic Economic Development Course 2023
theme focuses on Placemaking and Economic Recovery

ATLANTA — As communities move past the effects of COVID-19 and the economic turmoil stemming from the pandemic, economic development professionals are fully engaged in recovery.

The 56th Annual Georgia Tech Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) will arm these professionals with the tools and strategies needed to maximize opportunity and potential for local communities in a four-day course from August 28-31. (Register: http://tiny.cc/BEDC2023)

The 2023 BEDC keynote speakers include Eric Kronberg, founder of Kronberg Urbanists Architects, and Elizabeth Ward Williams, the firm’s director of urban design.

The new realities of today’s workforce in a post-pandemic economy means communities must reimagine themselves in ways that make them more attractive to people as places to live and for businesses to operate.

Presented by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in collaboration with the International Economic Development Council and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, this comprehensive course will explore the use of placemaking as an economic development tool to help professionals create quality places where people want to live and businesses believe they will thrive.

The 2023 theme is Placemaking and Economic Recovery: Creating Communities Where People Want to Live and Businesses Want to Be. Keynote speakers include Eric Kronberg, founder of Kronberg Urbanists Architects, and Elizabeth Ward Williams, that firm’s director of urban design.

“We know the pandemic has changed the way we operate in a lot of ways with telecommuting and remote working being a fixed reality for business and job seekers,” said Alan Durham, BEDC course director. With work-from-home or hybrid commuting schedules the norm, communities need to rethink how they create strategies and make them more appealing to potential residents and business investments, he said.

“Our course is designed to teach attendees how to maximize opportunities in this new reality. People aren’t moving to a given community simply to be closer to work if there’s no central office or even a requirement to go into one,” Durham said. “So, it’s imperative that officials looking to boost their communities’ economic development opportunities shift their thinking.”

Part of that shift means focusing on strategies that create an attractive quality of life both for residents and business, plan for economic recovery and resilience, smart incentive packages, and other tools. Communities must also find creative ways to address the shortage of workforce and entry-level housing options.

BEDC course speakers will address several topics over the four days that will help attendees capitalize on their communities’ unique assets and how they can effectively use and maximize placemaking as an economic development tool.

Among the course topics:

    • Workforce Housing Strategies
    • Business Retention and Expansion
    • Real Estate Development and Reuse
    • Business Credit Analysis
    • Workforce Development
    • Strategic Planning
    • Economic Impact and Incentives
    • Managing Economic Development Organizations
    • Ethics in Economic Development
    • Small Business and Entrepreneur Development
    • Marketing and Attraction
    • Disaster Recovery and Resilience
    • Media Strategy

This four-day conference gives attendees opportunities to network with industry peers and experts, deeply explore the fundamentals and emerging concepts of comprehensive economic development and prepare them to immediately implement tools and skills gained during the course.

Since its inception in 1967, the Georgia Tech BEDC has prepared more than 3,300 economic developers from all over the world for the IEDC Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) Examination. The certification is considered an essential component of a career in economic development. BEDC at Georgia Tech is accredited by the IEDC and qualifies as a professional development training requirement needed to sit for the exam.

About the Enterprise Innovation Institute
The Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s economic development unit, serves all of Georgia through a variety of services and programs that build and scale startups, grow business enterprises and energize ecosystem builders. As the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based economic development organization, the Institute’s expertise and reach are global; its innovation, entrepreneurship, and ecosystem development programs serve governments, universities, nonprofits, and other organizations worldwide. In 2022, Enterprise Innovation Institute programs worked with 15,785 clients to create or save 13,891 jobs and secure $2.4 billion in capital investments. As a group, the Enterprise Innovation Institute helped generate an economic impact return of $422.55 for every dollar received from state appropriations in 2022. Learn more at innovate.gatech.edu.

About the Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR)
The Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) is a unit of the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech with a mission to help communities and economic developers grow and thrive. CEDR, which manages the Basic Economic Development Course, uses in-depth of research, planning, and implementation experience along with resources across the broader Georgia Tech community to provide cutting edge solutions for the innovation economy. To learn more about CEDR and the services offered, please visit cedr.gatech.edu.