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    Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future

    Malaika Rivers (left) is a partner with Lexicon Strategies. Debra Lam is managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. They are co-authors of a report on CIDs called "Ready for the Smart(er) City: How Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are Building the Future."

    A comprehensive report by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Lexicon Strategies shows CIDs are an important economic growth tool.

     

    Community Improvement Districts, or CIDs, are best known for being mechanisms commercial property owners and local governments use to beautify streetscapes or support infrastructure projects.

     

    But a new, comprehensive analysis of their use in Georgia finds CIDs have had significant impact in leveraging dollars and driving growth. The report was produced by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program and its Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, in partnership with Lexicon Strategies. [Read the full report here: cidreport.com]

     

    Since the 1980s CIDs have become a competitive necessity in the growth of commercial centers and submarkets, the report’s authors said.

     

    "CIDs are now driving major infrastructure projects and providing community enhancements that are traditionally the purview of local government," said Malaika Rivers, a partner at Lexicon Strategies, and a co-author of the report. “But because CIDs are so effective at attracting additional resources, the commercial real estate owners and investors get more effective ways to manage and deliver projects and services important to their businesses."

     

    This report, which analyzed CID usage in metro Atlanta, marks the first time they have been evaluated for economic impact and ability to drive innovation. It also establishes a framework for comparing CIDs, a previously difficult task due to significant differences across the metro region.

     

    Among the report’s key findings:

    • Between 2005 and 2020, the number of CIDs in Georgia doubled to 34, with the most common driver being to attract funding and investment.
    • On average, every $1 spent by a CID generated $5 in outside funding.
    • Collectively, CIDs represented more than $16 billion in assessed value in 2019 and about $41 billion in fair market value.
    • CIDs are growing; about 89 percent of Georgia’s CIDs report plans to expand project and service offerings.
    • The public sector is playing a larger role in CID formation, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the ones created between 2010 and 2020.

    “Our findings show that Community Improvement Districts are not only crucial for traditional infrastructure, but also to the advancement of smart cities applications on future infrastructure,” said Debra Lam, co-author and director of the Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation (SCI2) program at Georgia Tech. SCI2’s mission is to develop innovative approaches to help build resilient and sustainable communities. It is an offering of the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, a public-private collaborative effort that launched in 2020 to lead coordinated, statewide efforts to position Georgia as the technology capital of the East Coast.

     

    With nearly three dozen CIDs currently in operation in metro Atlanta, Lam said they lay the foundation for a thriving environment that supports a host of CID organizational models in a wide variety of commercial product types, from Class-A office to dense industrial centers.

     

    “CIDs are and will continue to be a driving force in innovation,” Lam said.

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    T-Mobile, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab Team Up to Fuel 5G Innovation in Drones, Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, and More

    New 5G Connected Future incubator program will support growth and development of 5G entrepreneurs and startups.

     

    Outside picture of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

    Curiosity Labs at Peachtree Corners is home to the 5G Connected Future incubator that will be managed by Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC).

    The new 5G incubator is located in the city of Peachtree Corners’ 500-acre smart city technology park, a living lab powered by T-Mobile 5G where more than 8,000 people live or work. The facility features a 25,000 square foot Innovation Center and 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track. T-Mobile has deployed its Extended Range 5G and Ultra Capacity 5G network across the park enabling developers to build solutions in a real-world environment. Here developers will build and test new 5G use cases such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, industrial drone applications, mixed reality training and entertainment, remote medical care, personal health and fitness wearables, and more.

     

    “What a match-up! America’s leading 5G network, the brilliant minds of Georgia Tech and the most advanced living lab in the country — now that’s a powerhouse combination,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “We cannot wait to see the innovation that occurs as entrepreneurs and developers build the next big thing in 5G backed by these world-class resources.”

     

    Hedshot of ATDC Director John Avery

    John Avery is director of ATDC.

    The new incubator, managed in collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), is an expansion of the T-Mobile Accelerator and part of the Un-carrier’s efforts to fuel 5G innovation. T-Mobile supports numerous initiatives to help startups and entrepreneurs develop, test and bring to market groundbreaking new 5G products and services. T-Mobile Accelerator is an award-winning program founded in 2014 that originated in the smart city corridor of Kansas City.

    Companies participating in the 5G Connected Future program will work directly with technology and business leaders at T-Mobile Accelerator, Georgia Tech, and Curiosity Lab as they build, test and bring to market new products and services that unleash the potential of T-Mobile 5G. ATDC is a globally recognized technology incubator. The 5G Connected Future vertical is the fourth of its kind at ATDC and follows other targeted programs in health, retail and financial technologies.

     

    “In addition to the normal startup concerns, entrepreneurs in the 5G space face a unique set of challenges such as regulatory issues at the state and local levels, network security, and integration testing,” said ATDC Director John Avery.

     

    Betsy Plattenburg

    Betsy Plattenberg is executive director of Curiosity Lab.

    ATDC brings a unique framework that combines its startup curriculum, coaching, connections, and community, as well as direct access to Georgia Tech resources, research expertise, and student talent, to help entrepreneurs learn, launch, scale, and succeed. In this effort, ATDC will offer programing, recruit and evaluate startups, and hire staff to manage the vertical in Peachtree Corners.

     

    “This collaboration is a great opportunity for ATDC and Georgia Tech, the city of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab, and T-Mobile, a Fortune 50 company, to create a unique collection to work with these companies, refine their ideas into scalable companies, and bring these solutions to market more quickly,” Avery said.

     

    Such a partnership underscores “Georgia Tech’s commitment to enabling tomorrow’s technology leaders, which remains as strong as when ATDC was founded 41 years ago,” said Chaouki T. Abdallah, Georgia Tech’s executive vice president for research. “Innovation cannot take place in a vacuum, which is why entrepreneurs and startups require the knowledge and resources provided through partnerships such as ours.”

     

    “The City of Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab continue to affirm our commitment to technology innovation through programs, partnerships and engagements with industry leaders such as T-Mobile and Georgia Tech,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab. “These two organizations were instrumental in the launch of Curiosity Lab and our continued collaboration will create opportunities for the next-generation of intelligent mobility and smart city entrepreneurs.”

     

    T-Mobile 5G, A Platform for Innovation
    T-Mobile is America’s 5G leader, with the fastest and largest nationwide 5G network. T-Mobile’s Extended Range 5G covers more than 280 million people across nearly 1.6 million square miles – more geographic coverage than AT&T and Verizon combined. With Sprint now part of T-Mobile, the Un-carrier is widening its lead, using dedicated spectrum to bring customers with capable devices download speeds of around 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps.

     

    With its supercharged 5G network as the foundation, T-Mobile is working to fuel 5G innovation and build the 5G ecosystem. The Un-carrier collaborates with universities and standards bodies to support 5G research and development.  In addition to running the award-winning T-Mobile Accelerator, it also operates the T-Mobile Ventures investment fund and is a co-founder of the 5G Open Innovation Lab.

     

    Startups interested in joining the 5G Connected Future program can apply here.

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    Inspire Invests in Engage to Further Fuel Innovation in Atlanta

    Inspire Brands announced that it will be joining Atlanta, Georgia-based Engage, a first-of-its-kind collaborative innovation and corporate venture platform. Founded in 2018, Inspire Brands, based in Sandy Springs, Georgia, is the the second-largest restaurant company in the United States and its holdings include Arby's, Dunkin Brands Group, Jimmy John's, and Sonic Drive-In.

     

    Engage — an offering of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the economic development arm of the Georgia Institute of Technology — brings together industry-leading corporations, enterprise startups, and universities with the shared mission of elevating Atlanta and the Southeast as a leading technology and innovation hub. Through Inspire’s investment, the company will collaborate with B2B enterprise technology startups, work with entrepreneurs in pursuit of industry-changing ideas, and participate in Engage’s bi-annual Enterprise Go-To-Market program.

     

    Paul Brown

    Paul Brown, Inspire Brands' CEO and co-founder.

    In addition to Inspire’s investment, Inspire CEO Paul Brown will join Engage’s board of directors, while the company’s chief growth officer, Christian Charnaux, has joined Engage’s advisory board.

     

    The company sees the partnership as an opportunity to collaborate with Engage and help its portfolio startups scale while propelling innovation at Inspire. "Atlanta has built a reputation as a city that successfully incubates companies and attracts talent, especially in the technology sector," Brown said. "Engage builds upon that reputation by bringing together early-stage ventures and established companies across Atlanta.”

     

    Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin noted how Inspire Brands will complement what the venture platform and its existing corporate partners are doing and propel efforts even further.

     

    Engage Managing Director Daley Ervin.

    “Inspire Brands enhances our industry coverage and helps our entrepreneurs access new markets in key industry verticals. By working closely with our corporate partners, we derive sourcing insights that allow us to invest in startups with an unmatched fit and applicability to their strategic and innovation roadmaps," Ervin said. "We’re very fortunate to have partners like Inspire Brands, which leads its industry and is truly leaning in from the executive suite on down.”

     

    Engage is strengthening corporate innovation and venture capital by introducing a collaborative venture investment model for corporations. “Adding Inspire Brands, the nation’s second-largest restaurant company, as a partner firm helps bring more disruptive startups in food service and customer experience verticals to Engage,” said Marty Flannagan, president and CEO of Invesco, and chairman of the Engage Board of Directors.

     

    “Executives and senior leaders in our partnership will also benefit from the Inspire team’s unique insights in building long-term brands with rewarding customer experiences. This will further enhance the connective tissue between Atlanta’s ecosystem of startups, corporations, and universities — strengthening the virtuous cycle of attracting more disruptive startups across the board to the Southeast and further establishing Atlanta as an innovation hub.”

     

    In addition to Inspire, Engage’s partners are AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tech, Goldman Sachs, The Home Depot, Intercontinental Exchange, Invesco, Invest Georgia, Tech Square Ventures, and UPS. The Engage Fund is managed by Tech Square Ventures. Engage’s exclusive partnership with Georgia Tech, one of the country’s top research and technology commercialization universities, provides unique access to its startup, innovation, and research initiatives.

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    NSF Awards Georgia Tech Researchers with $100K in Civic Innovation Challenge Grants

    National Science Foundation-funded competition supports ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects
    with high potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities.

     

    Two professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology have each been awarded Civic Innovation Challenge Stage 1 grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to further their research in bringing solutions to community problems.

     

    The $50,000 grants, which in addition to the NSF, are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They were awarded in conjunction with the MetroLab Network, a global consortium that includes 28 cities, 6 counties, and 35 universities — including Georgia Tech, a founding member — focused on civic research and innovation.

     

    The two Tech recipients are Pascal Van Hentenryck, the A. Russell Chandler III Chair and Professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and Allen Hyde, assistant professor of sociology at the School of History and Sociology in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

     

    Both researchers’ projects are part of Georgia Tech’s Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation program, which aims to develop innovative approaches to help build resilient and sustainable communities.

     

    “This is an important recognition for our researchers and how Georgia Tech is a leader in incorporating innovation in solving community-level challenges,” said Debra Lam, Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation executive director. “To have two of our projects awarded grants in the two competition categories — communities and mobility, and resilience to natural disasters, underscores the work we are doing has real-world potential to bring quality solutions to some of our most pressing community issues.”

     

    Pascal Van Hentenryck is the A. Russell Chandler III Chair and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech.

    Van Hentenryck, who also is associate chair for innovation and entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech, leads the Social Aware Mobility project. Its goal is to increase usage of mass transit systems in metro areas such as Atlanta, by focusing on solutions at the biggest pain points for transit users: the portion of the trips to and from transit stations.

     

    “Transit is very important and giving people greater mobility options is critical for access to job centers and health care,” Van Hentenryck said, explaining the grant will be used to fund the implementation of pilot studies in Gwinnett County and the city of Smyrna.

     

    “Gwinnett County has a very good transit system but it’s also a very large area to cover. The Social Aware Mobility effort is looking at bringing two solutions to the transit challenge,” he said, adding his team’s findings could have broader implications for mass transit systems and planning globally. “The first is getting people to the buses and trains, which have fixed routes, through service options like on-demand shuttles that address the first-leg and last-leg portions of trips.”

     

    Those on-demand shuttles would be flexible both in time and availability and in routes to complement mass transit systems that have fixed routes and schedules. That flexibility would also allow for synchronization of legacy transit systems with those on-demand service options.

     

    The second focus of the Social Aware Mobility project is the development of dynamic pricing algorithms and the implementation of a network of dedicated bus lanes for mass transit commuters. The idea is that those lanes would not be congested at peak travel times — morning and evening rush hour, for example — to keep mass transit as a viable and desirable option to idling in cars on traffic-choked roadways.

     

    Allen Hyde is an assistant professor of sociology at the School of History and Sociology in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech.

    Hyde, the sociology professor and other grant principal investigator, is part of a team of professors and grad students from Georgia Tech and Savannah State University. The researchers are working with Harambee House, a non-profit environmental justice organization, and city of Savannah's Office of Sustainability.

     

    Their work will study the social and physical vulnerabilities of coastal communities — in this case, Savannah, Georgia — and how environmental disasters, such as flooding and hurricanes, affect those communities’ ability to rebound and be resilient.

     

    But a community’s ability to rebound also depends on local policies and practices and implementation, Hyde said. And in historically marginalized communities, such as Savannah’s Hudson Hill area, a working class, predominantly Black neighborhood, there may not be adequate resources to help them recover fully. Hudson Hill is adjacent to the Savannah ports and historically has had environmental concerns related to port activity, challenges with public infrastructure and healthcare, and a lack of job opportunities, which exacerbate the effects of disasters.

     

    “When we think about resilience, whether it’s after a disaster or another event, a lot of the discussion is framed around telling people to just be more resilient,” Hyde said. “But when we think about historically marginalized communities, we’re not often considering what it is that they feel that they need to be resilient to, what does resilience look like for them in their terms, and do they want to return to the way things were?” The researchers intend to use a community-based participatory research model to engage residents as local knowledge experts and co-producers of data and solutions to answer some of these questions.

     

    The discussion around resiliency is often framed as people and communities affected by a disaster returning to a pre-disaster state. “But these communities may not want to return to where things were before,” Hyde said. “They may want to bounce forward into a more thriving, instead of surviving, status.”

     

    “We’re working to understand what resilience and vulnerability to disasters means for residents in historically marginalized communities. We also hope to understand how we can further develop social networks because we believe these communities are already resilient, but networks can enhance the resilience that already exists there,” Hyde said. The teams’ research model and developing tailored solutions to the Hudson Hill community may have applications in other areas across the country that have their own unique sets of challenges to disasters, including towns on the U.S.-Mexico border and Native American communities.

     

    “Here on the Georgia coast, people do care about hurricanes and about flooding,” Hyde said. “But you can’t just think about disasters in isolation without the context. From a community standpoint, you have to think about the historical challenges that these communities face. You really have to think about the bigger picture. Further, residents should be treated as local knowledge experts, and their voices should be heard and valued in planning before and after disasters.”

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    Siemens to Award $140K in Grants to Black-Owned Businesses Across Seven U.S. Metropolitan Cities

    Effort is to support the building of more resilient supply chains and is in partnership
    with the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Centers at Georgia Tech.

     

    Siemens Logo

    Siemens USA announced it will provide a total of $140,000 in grants to Black-owned businesses to support diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship and business development. Siemens and its partner, the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will select businesses to receive the grants across seven U.S. cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Orlando and Pasadena.

     

    “To build resilient supply chains, and to expand our own business opportunities, we need a marketplace that’s diverse and inclusive,” said Nichelle Grant, head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Siemens USA. “These grants are intended to help Black-owned companies develop their businesses to be in the best position to compete for contracts and become part of supplier bases like ours.”

     

    The minority business community, and Black-owned businesses in particular, have experienced numerous hardships during this time of the pandemic, social unrest and economic downturn. The Siemens grants demonstrate the company’s support of minority businesses and mission to advance supplier diversity.

     

    “For many years, Siemens Supply Chain Management has strategically sourced from diverse businesses to benefit from the innovation and creativity these suppliers have to offer.  Any resilient and successful supply chain needs to invest in cultural diversity as part of its vision,” said Patric Stadtfeld, head of Supply Chain Management for the Americas, Siemens USA. “We’re proud to continue supporting and growing our supplier base of more than 6,000 small and diverse businesses.”

    Donna Ennis is project director of the Atlanta MBDA Centers' at Georgia Tech.

     

    The MBDA Centers will nominate up to five businesses for the grants in each city based on their financial challenges and alignment with Siemens’ supply chain needs, and all candidates will be entered into Siemens’ supplier database. Grants in the amount of $20,000 will be awarded to each of the seven winners in late February. The seven cities were chosen based on Siemens footprint and supplier partner needs.

     

    “The MBDA Centers are proud to partner with Siemens as the company strategically provides financial support to minority-owned businesses during this critical time,” said Donna Ennis, director of the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers.  “By providing the support our businesses need during these unique times, Siemens further demonstrates its commitment to greater diversity within the marketplace and an understanding of the importance of Black-owned businesses to the overall health of the today’s business climate and economy.”

     

    These grants align with Siemens’ ongoing commitment to drive meaningful, measurable impact towards closing the opportunity gap in the Black business community. The company recently expanded its longtime partnership with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) in Atlanta by offering guided virtual tours for employees and HBCU students to explore the powerful exhibits of social change. The company and its partners also deployed its air filtration and thermal imaging technology at NCCHR to help them remain open safely to the public during COVID-19.

     

    This mission is also advanced through the work of the Siemens Foundation, the non-profit organization established by Siemens USA, and its recent $2 million pledge to Community Development Financial Institutions Funds to support social and economic equity in racially diverse communities. The Foundation, with support from Siemens Healthineers, also committed $2 million to 20 community health centers across the country to help them respond to the COVID-19 crisis and continue to provide care for millions of Americans in underserved populations. Additional donations are supporting historically black colleges and universities in their plans to safely reopen campuses.

     

    About Siemens Corp.
    Siemens Corp. is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 170 years. Active around the world, the company focuses on intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems and on automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. Siemens brings together the digital and physical worlds to benefit customers and society. Through Mobility, a leading supplier of intelligent mobility solutions for rail and road transport, Siemens is helping to shape the world market for passenger and freight services. Via its majority stake in the publicly listed company Siemens Healthineers, Siemens is also a world-leading supplier of medical technology and digital health services. In addition, Siemens holds a minority stake in Siemens Energy, a global leader in the transmission and generation of electrical power that has been listed on the stock exchange since September 28, 2020. In fiscal 2020, Siemens Group USA generated revenue of $17 billion and employs approximately 40,000 people serving customers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

     

    About the Atlanta MBDA Centers
    As part of a national network of over 40 centers and special projects, the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers help minority business enterprises access capital, increase profitability, and scale their businesses. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency, the Atlanta MBDA Centers are part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. To learn more, visit mbdabusinesscenter-atlanta.org.

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