Georgia Tech’s Top-ranked Basic Economic Development Course Explores Placemaking

The Georgia Institute of Technology is hosting its 57th annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC), an immersive in-person event that explores the multifaceted theme of placemaking, Aug. 26 – 29, 2024, at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center.

BEDC is presented by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council (course completion can be applied toward certification) and the Georgia Economic Developers Association.

The Enterprise Innovation Institute is the longest running, most diverse university-based development organization in the U.S. Through the application of Georgia Tech’s world-class research in science, technology, and innovation, it helps companies, entrepreneurs, economic developers, and communities hone their competitive edge.

Since its founding in the 1880s, Georgia Tech has been committed to promoting economic development in the state of Georgia, and BEDC — which was the nation’s first course of its kind when it debuted in 1967 — continues that longstanding tradition.

Led by the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research, and under the guidance of a collaborative team of economists, city planners, and economic development practitioners, BEDC attendees spend four days participating in interactive workshops, networking with industry professionals, and listening to guest speakers whose expertise spans a range of disciplines.

The course delves into different strategies for fostering local economic development, from crafting effective incentives and creating quality communities to promoting economic recovery and resilience — not to mention navigating all the opportunities and challenges that arise in the process.

In short, there’s a lot more to economic development than simply providing jobs.

“Today’s society is more mobile than ever,” said Alan Durham, a program manager and BEDC course director with the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s Center for Economic Development Research.

“Because an increasing number of number of workers are no longer tied to a centralized office location, they are embracing the opportunity to move to farther-flung areas. As a result, quality of life is becoming essential for attracting talent and retaining existing companies. This course trains influential local leaders who can assist their communities in doing exactly that.”

BEDC welcomes enrollees of all experience levels. Whether they are new to economic development or looking expand their existing knowledge base, participants can expect to complete the course armed with an amplified understanding of essential principles — and the skills to put them into practice.

What: Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC)
When:
August 26 – 29, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. EDT
Where:
Global Learning Center, 84 Fifth Street N.W., Atlanta, GA 30308
Presented by: The Georgia Institute of Technology in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council and the Georgia Economic Developers Association
Program director: Alan Durham, 404.660.0241, alan.durham@innovate.gatech.edu
Register: gt-bedc.org
For more information, contact: Krystle Richardson, 404.894.7174, krystle.richardson@innovate.gatech.edu

What automation means for economic development

Karen Fite Automation GaMEP
GaMEP Director Karen Fite (standing), moderates the Automation Panel at the 51st Annual Basic Economic Development Course. (Photo: Péralte C. Paul)

Automation.

 

The word and what it represents is driving a lot of discussion about what that means for manufacturers and for those in economic development tasked with bringing industry — and jobs — to their communities.

 

But automation is not the boogeyman people think it is, said Mark Ligler, vice president of Factory Automation Systems. The Atlanta-based company is a systems integration resource for many of the top manufacturers in the United States and supports them in programmable controller and drive systems, robot integration, and information solutions.

 

“Automation is not a job killer,” Ligler said. “It’s a job creator and it’s keeping people here employed.”

 

Ligler made his remarks as part of a panel discussion, “What Automation means for Your Community” at the 51st annual Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) held Feb. 27 through March 2.

 

The interactive professional development course is produced by the Georgia Tech’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and offered in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). It provides seasoned economic development professionals and those new to the field with the core fundamentals of business attraction, workforce development, retention and expansion, and entrepreneur and small business challenges, as well as transformative trends in the industry.

 

Basic Economic Development Course
Sixty-five economic development professionals from across the country attended Georgia Tech’s Basic Economic Development Course at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. (Photo: Special)

The 2018 BEDC theme — “Automation and Economic Development” — centered on how that is changing a number of industries and drove the panel discussions and other events for the 65 attendees who came from across the country.

 

“The research tells us that in roughly 60 percent of current occupations that at least a third of tasks performed in those jobs could be automated,” said Karen Fite, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP).

 

A federally funded program at Georgia Tech, GaMEP works with manufacturers in the state to increase their competitiveness and efficiency and boost productivity.

 

Fite, who moderated the panel, said the question for those in economic development and manufacturers is to understand how automation will affect business and industry and how to best prepare for the jobs and skills it will require.

 

It was a sentiment echoed by other panelists, which included Josh Benton, executive director of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Tom Sammon, a GaMEP project manager specializing on implementing Lean manufacturing practices and helping companies develop capital equipment applications, and John Fluker, president and chief sales officer of Grenzebach Corp. in Newnan, Ga.

 

“Automation, when you look at it from a longterm perspective, is all about competitiveness,” Fluker said.

 

“Competitiveness and demographics are driving automation,” he said, adding the technologies behind it are helping create a new landscape with jobs that demand new skills.

 

“It’s not a job killer,” he said. “It’s a skills changer.”