Georgia Institute of Technology launches the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Economic Development Research (CEDR) and its partners announce the launch of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge (Georgia Smart). The effort is the first statewide program to support local governments across Georgia with seed funding, technical assistance, and more as they plan and activate smart development.

 

Georgia Smart seeks proposals in the areas of smart mobility and smart resilience. Each of the four winning teams will receive direct grant funding of up to $50,000, as well as additional funds for research and technical assistance with a required local match.

 

The grants are made possible through funding from the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Power Co. Also supporting this effort are the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Centers for Innovation, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and the Technology Association of Georgia.

 

Two of the winning teams will be from rural communities and the other two from more urban Georgia cities.

 

“We’ve spent the past year in workshops and dialogue with local governments across Georgia to better understand their challenges and priorities. From these communications, we developed a program that is sensitive to the local context while fast-tracking smart communities,” said Debra Lam, managing director of Smart Cities and Inclusive Innovation at Georgia Tech. “We aim to create more models for smart development that can be shared and applied across the state and beyond.”

 

The first program of its kind in the United States, Georgia Smart brings together an unprecedented coalition of university, industry, and public sector partners to support local governments’ adoption of cutting-edge technologies in their communities. The program is also unique in that it extends beyond large cities to smaller communities whose voices have not been as prominent in smart community development and who may not have access to technology resources.

 

The Georgia Smart initiative is open to all communities in Georgia. Local Georgia governments of any size — cities, counties, or consolidated city-county governments — will lead selected teams. Georgia Smart will provide seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice, and a network of peers. A Georgia Tech researcher will assist and advise each team and conduct research in support of the community’s needs and goals.

 

CEDR will provide strategic planning and facilitation assistance to the recipients of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge grants, and help those communities activate their smart community plans. For more information on the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, please contact Leigh Hopkins, senior project manager with Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at 404.894.0933 or email ude.hcetag.etavonninull@snikpoh.hgiel.

 

Comprised of a dozen programs, including CEDR, EI2 is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development.

 

“This is a chance for communities — both urban and rural — to look at ways of moving their economies forward by focusing on ideas centered on innovation, transportation, and broadband infrastructure among other economic development opportunities,” Hopkins said. “We’re looking forward to working with the winning teams and help them develop their ideas.”

 

Georgia Tech and its partners will work with the winning teams throughout the year on implementing their proposals, creating four testbeds of smart community development. For more information on applying for the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, visit: http://smartcities.gatech.edu/georgia-smart.

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.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary visits Northwest Georgia

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, (fifth from left) and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams (far left) were in Northwest Georgia on May 6 to visit several manufacturing facilities and discuss ways to build a skilled curriculum for the next generation working in a highly automated manufacturing environment and better engage parents and teachers to redefine manufacturing,

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, (fifth from left) and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams (far left) were in Northwest Georgia on May 6 to visit several manufacturing facilities and discuss ways to build a skilled curriculum for the next generation working in a highly automated manufacturing environment and better engage parents and teachers to redefine manufacturing. (Photo credit: Eric Beavers)

U.S. Dept. of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams visited Northwest Georgia recently to tour the Engineered Floors facility and the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy.

They participated in a round table discussion with the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) Consortium, Floor360, and Communities That Work Partnership (CTWP) leaders from industry, workforce development and the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy.

The May 6 discussion centered on building a skilled curriculum for the next generation working in a highly automated manufacturing environment, better engagement of parents and teachers to redefine manufacturing, development of skilled pathways to manufacturing employment through apprenticeships, and the launch of the new Advanced Manufacturing and Business Academy (AMBA) at the College and Career Academy.

The IMCP program is one of the Commerce Department’s main initiatives to support job creation and accelerate manufacturing growth. The goal is to make communities more economically strong by transforming their industrial ecosystems into globally competitive manufacturing hubs. Georgia Tech, through its Center for Economic Development Research unit, partnered with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission to develop a comprehensive strategy focused on advanced manufacturing in the carpet and flooring industries in the region.

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration designated the Northwest Georgia region an IMCP “Manufacturing Community” in 2014.  This designation gives organizations that support the industry via the Northwest Georgia’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy elevated status for certain federally aligned grant programs.

Throughout the IMCP initiative, the region has placed particular focus on workforce development issues.  As an outgrowth of IMCP, Northwest Georgia was selected to participate in the CTWP, a one-year joint project between EDA and the Aspen Institute. The CTWP was a competitive application process and the Northwest Georgia region won the selection following a competitive process against other applications across the country.

Each partnership/cohort consists of three to four individuals from organizations within their regions who are in a position to accelerate change to benefit businesses and workers through industry-led workforce development strategies, one of whom represents the voice of business.

The goal of CTWP is to accelerate and document promising, evidence-based best practices in regional collaboration for talent development that promotes growth and opportunity in the regional economy.

READ MORE on the Floor360 blog.