The Georgia Institute of Technology has named Karen Fite interim vice president of its economic development unit, the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2).
Fite, who is EI²’s associate vice president, will lead the 12-program organization while Georgia Tech conducts a national search for a permanent vice president to succeed Chris Downing, who retired in June after 31 years of service.
EI2is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.
Fite, who also is director of EI2’s Business & Industry Services group of programs, has more than 26 years of economic development experience at Tech.
The Business & Industry Services group includes the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP), EI2’s largest economic development offering.
It also includes:
- Safety, Health, and Environmental Services (SHES)
- Atlanta MBDA Centers
- Contracting Education Academy
- Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC)
- Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC).
“As director of business and industry services, Karen has successfully provided leadership in critical areas of economic development. We have full confidence that she will continue EI2’s momentum and reach in Georgia and beyond as we conduct the search for a permanent vice president,” said Chaouki Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research.
“She brings an enormous wealth of expertise and critical understanding to economic development and how to connect businesses, manufacturers, and communities to Georgia Tech’s vast innovation and technology resources to elevate their competitive position and economic impact.”
With state and federal support, for example, EI2’s 160-member staff operate a statewide network of assistance to Georgia manufacturers through the GaMEP and supports commercialization of Georgia Tech faculty research via its VentureLab offering.
A globally recognized model for university-based economic development, EI2— through its Economic Development Lab program — is tapped across the state, nationally, and internationally to help communities and organization innovate in business incubation and commercialization, strategic planning, and economic sustainability.
Other programs include assisting in the growth and development of technology startups through the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), serving minority-owned businesses, and advising companies across the Southeast that have been affected by foreign trade.
Previously, Fite was GaMEP’s state regional network manager and led a team of 10 regional managers in their outreach efforts.
She was an RAB-certified Quality Management Systems Lead Auditor, and as a member of the Center for International Standards and Quality (CISQ), she provided implementation assistance and training to companies pursuing ISO 9001. She has expertise in assisting companies in the implementation of Lean Principles in manufacturing, government and healthcare entities.
Her earlier experience includes the application of industrial and management engineering, employee involvement, and business principles.
Fite has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s in health systems from Georgia Tech.In 2018, she achieved the faculty rank of principal extension professional, the Georgia Tech’s highest professional extension faculty rank.