Eric Morrissette Visits Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute

The Georgia MBDA Business Center (Georgia MBC) recently hosted Eric Morrissette, acting under secretary of commerce for minority business development, U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), for a site visit to the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) on April 22, 2024. Morrissette was there to demonstrate MBDA’s commitment to EI2 and Georgia MBC, which, as a federal funding agency, delivers value and support to Georgia MBC clients.

Morrissette was welcomed by David Bridges, vice president of EI2, the country’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. After Morrissette briefly introduced himself and his work, Bridges detailed the organization’s intent.

“Everyone who works at EI2 came here for a reason: to help people lift themselves up,” he said. “We are capacity builders; we want to be here to transfer knowledge to you. We are about economic opportunity for all,” he added, before launching a presentation that detailed the various components of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, as well as the Georgia MBC’s place within it. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Georgia MBC helps businesses access capital, increase profitability, and scale their businesses.

Donna Ennis, EI2’s director of community engagement and program development and the Center’s operator representative, spoke further on the Georgia MBC, while acknowledging the Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub, stakeholders and strategic alliances, including program sponsors Ebco, Georgia Power Foundation, and Trane Technologies.

Ennis is also co-director of the Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM), which works to drive adoption of AI in U.S. manufacturing, and she noted the ways in which that program dovetails with MBDA’s mission. Due to funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), Georgia AIM is reaching Georgia residents who are historically underrepresented in manufacturing. In addition, Ennis said, “We are always looking for gaps in the technological ecosystem and how we can fill [them].”

Jennifer Pasley, Georgia MBDA Business Center project director opened the floor for testimonials from clients, before Ennis initiated a general discussion where participants shared questions, concerns, and insights with Morrissette. Representatives from Southern Company, Atlanta Business League, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Supplier Development Council discussed the challenges facing businesses owned by socially and/or economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDIs). Georgia MBDA Center clients DoverStaffing/DoverSolutions, eSpin Technologies, Freeing Returns, IBEX, RYSE Creative Village, and The Royster Group shared their companies’ journeys to success with the Center’s assistance and the challenges they faced along the way including access to capital and opportunities.

Said Morrissette of his office’s mission, “I have the best job, because it is to create wealth in communities around this country. It’s allowing people to penetrate markets that haven’t been penetrated before, allowing them to realize their dreams and hopes in business. No part of my mandate [is] to just give out things. It’s allowing people who want something to better seize it … and my job is to show them how, through our networks.”