The Georgia Institute of Technology and Gwinnett Technical College, part of the Atlanta Health Information Technology (HIT) cluster, have been awarded a $1.65 million grant to enhance the state’s capabilities in this sector. The initiative is part of the federal government’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a tri-agency competition initiated to support the advancement of 20 high-growth, regional industry clusters. The Atlanta HIT cluster’s proposal was one of 20 selected from 125 applicants.
The collaborative program, designed to quickly create jobs to fill demand in Georgia’s expanding HIT cluster, provides a commercialization pathway for the supply-side and training for the workforce on the provider side. The initiative also engages traditionally underserved businesses throughout the state’s economically distressed areas via technical assistance resources.
“Our ultimate goal is simple — to achieve higher-quality, lower-cost and more patient-centric health care throughout Georgia,” said Steve Rushing, director of HIT initiatives at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), who will serve as the general advisor for the integrated project plan. “Through extensive collaboration and partnerships, this initiative leverages existing resources to boost job creation through technology deployment, and thus economic development.”
The HIT proposal is funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Atlanta Development Authority (ADA) will assist with financing coordination on the SBA Scope of Work.
“ADA will focus on identifying and coordinating financing sources such as small business loans and equity from angel and venture capital firms to enhance this initiative,” says Brian McGowan, president and ADA CEO. “This grant will greatly expand our region’s capacity to create jobs and establish a global competitive edge in a highly sought after innovation cluster.”
In-kind donations and support for hiring program graduates have also come from the HIT industry and information technology providers. In addition, the Georgia Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center will play a key role in identifying eligible and formerly under-served small businesses to participate in the program.
The centerpiece of the EDA funds provided by this grant will be the creation of an Interoperability Lab that will be funded for two years. A standards-based facility located at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), the lab will test and evaluate cutting-edge health information technology software innovations originating from industry, researchers, faculty and students, inventors and other sources.
As part of the initiative, Gwinnett Technical College will develop a one-year certificate in health information technology. The “Feet on the Ground” program, designed for veterans and underemployed/unemployed individuals, will provide industry-designed training for employment in software development, sales and customer service, medical billing and coding, and computer networking positions within health care provider organizations.
“This grant and the resulting Feet on the Ground’ program is great news for our veterans, those unemployed and underemployed, and individuals eager to enter the rapidly growing field of health information technology,” said Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels. “HIT is a growing sector where there are jobs for those with the right skills and training. The program Gwinnett Tech will develop will help fill this unmet need for a skilled workforce and connect job seekers with employers.”
The “Feet on the Ground” certification program will undergo curriculum development and preparation for the initial project year. The target for years two and three will be to graduate more than 400 certified trainees annually, approximately half of them veterans.
About the Enterprise Innovation Institute:
The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers and communities improve their competitiveness through the application of science, technology and innovation. It is one of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation.