EI2 Study Will Focus on County’s Needs

Surveys and interviews are soon to take place as part of a project that could help organizations better invest their money in Cherokee County.

The county is being studied by Georgia Tech for the Regional Data Mapping Pilot Project. The goal of the project is to gauge the needs of the county to see how the organizations could better serve the residents.

Cherokee is one of four counties being studied along with Butts, Clayton and Rockdale. The counties were selected based on their wide range of demographic, cultural and economic characteristics. The organizations involved with the project are the Annie Casey Foundation, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Families First, Kaiser Permanente, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta.

Associate Project Manager Jason Chernock of Georgia Tech EI2 said interviews are being set up with county leaders to get their input.

“It will help our clients understand what gaps in service there are so they can make investments,” he said. He hopes to have all surveys collected and interviews completed within the next few weeks.

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Saving Energy in Savannah

Savannah, the “Hostess City of the South,” is known for its southern hospitality and charm, but it is also making a bid to be known as environmentally friendly. Already, the City has implemented a number of initiatives, including converting all of its traffic lights to more energy-efficient and long-lasting LEDs, expanding use of treated wastewater for irrigation and implementing a much-anticipated single-stream curbside recycling program.

In August 2008, Mayor Otis Johnson held a town hall meeting to pledge that the City of Savannah will be a more environmentally sustainable community and to launch a new sustainability initiative, dubbed Thrive. However, Johnson wanted to focus on leading by example rather than making policies that force citizens to get on board with the program.

“There’s a lot of talk about being green and sustainable,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to lift up being environmentally healthy, we have to walk that walk.”

Rachel Smithson, Thrive coordinator for the City of Savannah, began collecting data to establish the City’s carbon footprint. The City conducted employee commuter surveys and analyzed electricity consumption, fuel usage and gas emissions. By plugging all of this data into a formula created by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, Smithson realized that Savannah city government produces roughly 75,320 tons of equivalent carbon emissions per year.

“Now we had a baseline and we just needed to set an emissions reduction target,” Smithson recalled. “Just about that time, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority came up with the Governor’s Energy Challenge that invited statewide business, county and city governments to reduce their energy consumption 15 percent by the year 2020.”

After studying the carbon footprint data, Smithson noticed that city government buildings were the number one source of energy consumption, a trend that coincides with national data. The Thrive Committee decided to focus its initial efforts on buildings, and through its connection with the Georgia Environmental Partnership, called on Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute for assistance. One of the most comprehensive university-based programs of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization and economic development in the nation, the Enterprise Innovation Institute has a local office on Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus.

“We wanted to have an energy audit because we didn’t want to randomly start replacing lights and windows; we wanted to make sure that we were going to have the greatest impact on our electricity and energy consumption,” Smithson said. “The City was really excited about using Georgia Tech because it isn’t trying to sell us a particular product; the staff there gives us a good, third-party, neutral analysis of what we need.”

Mike Brown, an energy specialist with the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and two Georgia Tech co-op students conducted energy audits at three government buildings: City Hall, the Thomas Gamble Building and the Broughton Municipal Building. All three are designated historic buildings, and house the mayor’s office and council chambers, human resources, information technology, auditing, utility services and revenue, among others.

Brown and the students placed data loggers in each of the buildings, measuring temperature, lighting and energy consumption, even over nights and weekends. They studied each building’s energy consumption history and measured the major energy-consuming equipment.

Among the recommendations that the Georgia Tech specialists made were: replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps, improve fluorescent lighting efficiency by replacing T-12 lights with T-8 lights, and manage the building plug-load. They also recommended installing occupancy sensors in restrooms, vending machine controllers to reduce lighting and cooling, a building automation system to automatically control HVAC systems, and variable-air volume fans to match air flow with cooling needs.

According to Smithson, the biggest challenge now is implementing Georgia Tech’s recommendations. As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the City was able to establish a revolving loan with its stimulus funding. Although the City cannot implement all of the recommendations immediately, Smithson says that as soon as one investment is paid back, another project can begin with the energy savings from the previous project.

“Other challenges we face include changing the mindset of our employees, but behavior modification and organizational and culture shifts take time,” she said. “We also don’t want to harm the historic integrity of our facilities, but at the same time we don’t want to be so concerned that we’re throwing energy out the window because we’re using single-pane glass.”

Already, the benefits are outweighing the challenges. Georgia Tech’s assistance allowed the City to have an energy conservation strategy in place, a requirement of the stimulus funding application that some cities have spent more than $250,000 to obtain. And although a lot of investments have yet to be made, electricity expenditures were $350,000 below what the City had targeted through May 2009, something Smithson attributes to changing employee behavior alone.

“Having Georgia Tech on board doing the energy audit has helped us transform our messaging from ‘this is good for the environment’ to ‘this is good for the bottom line,’ and that has helped us sell this larger Thrive initiative to our elected officials and the community,” said Bret Bell, director of Savannah’s Public Information Office. “We’re taking it seriously enough that we want to document where we started and where we are going. It has given us credibility.”

About 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.

Research News & Publications Office

Enterprise Innovation Institute

Georgia Institute of Technology

75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314

Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Calibrating Economic Developers

A set of tools developed by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute helps economic developers improve their organization’s performance through the use of quality management techniques. This service – dubbed the Calibration Program™ – leverages Georgia Tech expertise in such areas as strategic planning, budgeting, professional development, public relations and metrics.

“Since 1961, Georgia Tech has helped local governments, economic development organizations and companies make the right decisions to manage growth, create jobs, and increase benefits to those they serve,” said Joy Wilkins, manager of community innovation services at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “With all of that experience, we began examining what successful organizations had in common and decided to build a self-assessment tool specifically for economic development organizations around those results.”

The Calibration Program enables economic development organizations to determine the need for change or to implement corrective action to resolve inefficiencies, make informed decisions regarding the setting of organizational priorities and develop and utilize key quality management tools for achieving ongoing operational excellence. According to Wilkins, the adoption of a quality management system can help economic development organizations maintain and achieve their missions, improve their ability to meet customer needs and boost public confidence in their performance.

To create national benchmarks for the program, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute launched a joint initiative in 2006 to benchmark excellence in quality management among economic development organizations, focusing on the practices by accredited economic development organizations (AEDOs) – that is, those recognized as being among the profession’s “best of the best.” This effort yielded several measures of enterprise excellence among the AEDOs, as well as opportunities for continual improvement on their pathway to ongoing excellence. It also helped to inform other economic development organizations about what it takes to be a high performance organization in economic development.

IEDC and Georgia Tech are again partnering to create up-to-date benchmarks during the first quarter of 2009. This 2009 effort not only surveys AEDOs according to the quality management indicators used during the 2006 effort, it also includes a few new measures relating to sustainability.

“IEDC strives to be at the forefront of economic development,” said Robin Roberts Krieger, past-chair of the International Economic Development Council. “Our important and timely partnership in launching the Calibration Program with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute will empower our members to stay ahead of the curve, and provide one more resource for their success.”

The Calibration process begins with a self-assessment by organizational stakeholders who complete an online, confidential survey. A report summarizing results from this assessment is produced, along with comparisons to the national benchmarks and a gauge for areas needing corrective action.

“Through this program, we zero in on areas of strength and areas that can be improved upon,” explained Wilkins. “In other words, we can identify areas that need calibration and recommend specific improvement projects to help the economic development organization adopt, sustain or enhance its quality management system.”

The creation of the Calibration Program was made possible through seed funding provided by the Georgia Rural Economic Development Center at East Georgia College to pilot the program.

“I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from participating in the program,” said JoAnne Lewis of the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce of her organization’s pilot experience. “It really gives you an avenue to look at where you are and where you need to go to improve.”

About 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.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Finding the Sweet Spot of Community Economic Development

On a recent Saturday morning, some three dozen residents of southwest Atlanta gathered at the Dunbar Neighborhood and Recreation Center. They weren’t there for a book club or a basketball game, but for a discussion about community economic development.

For six months, this group met every two weeks to learn about concepts, tools, techniques and analysis that will enable them to envision and design their own community. The Community Economic Development Institute, one of the first programs of its kind, was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and led by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute.

The curriculum for the six-month program included such topics as business attraction, public financing, small business and transit-oriented development. Instructors came from the private sector, state and local government, non-profit organizations and academia. Following their graduation in October 2008, class participants have been intimately involved in the strategic planning for the creation of a mixed-income, mixed-use development on a 31.4-acre tract of land owned by the Casey Foundation on University Avenue.

The site borders the planned Atlanta BeltLine, one of the most wide-ranging urban redevelopment efforts underway in the United States. The BeltLine project will address regional sprawl by combining green space, trails, transit and new development along 22 miles of historic rail segments that encircle Atlanta’s urban core.

“In a polarized society like the one we’re living in now, it takes a diverse group of people to make community development possible, and this program has provided the impetus and the tools to make the community what it can be,” said Thelma Sonia Graves, a retiree who represented the Joyland community at the Institute. “It empowered us and made all of us potential leaders.”

According to project director Kathryn Brice, knowledge and confidence gained from the sessions encouraged collaboration and dialogue among citizens, public and private agencies. The program, the second such session led by Brice, was enthusiastically received by the diverse participants and has already generated interest from similar, surrounding neighborhoods.

Sig Ehrmann, a schoolteacher at Fulton County’s Mount Olive Elementary and representative of the Sylvan Hills neighborhood, says the program has helped her understand that community economic development is like a puzzle.

“In the past, community projects have been done in crisis mode instead of planning ahead of time,” she noted. “The Community Economic Development Institute has taught me how to take the pieces of the puzzle – housing, workforce, financing, transportation – and put them together to affect change.”

The Community Economic Development Institute was the brainchild of David Hooker, then vice president for community building at The Center for Working Families, an Annie E. Casey Foundation initiative in inner-city Atlanta. In a 2007 workshop, five Georgia Tech graduate students in the School of Public Policy gathered data on the University Avenue neighborhood and reviewed diverse sources describing the area. They added information from interviews with developers concerning housing, zoning, existing land use, and demographic projections.

Under the direction of Georgia Tech faculty member Jan Youtie, the students determined that the area had potential for residential, office, retail, and light industrial development, but found that it also carried risks related to location, crime, vacancy and a mobile population. Their report recommended “a phased economic development strategy that addresses both near-term and long-term uses.”

Samuel Holland, a member of the Pittsburgh neighborhood, got involved with the project as a first-time home buyer. He said learning about community economic development can make a difference in attracting and keeping residents to the community.

“Education is so important,” he said, “and the biggest benefit to attending the workshops is I now know I can make a difference.”

This notion – that the more informed people are about the impacts of their decisions, the more likely they are to make decisions that truly support their own interests – is what instigated the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support this community economic development effort.

“The Casey Foundation has supported and invested significant resources in the development and implementation of the Community Economic Development Institute because we believe it’s a further demonstration of the way we want to do all of our work with the community,” said Mtamanika Youngblood, director of neighborhood transformation for the Casey Foundation. “Whenever we address a public challenge – in this case community economic development – we are committed to helping to build the community’s capacity to address that challenge. When we do both, meet a challenge and simultaneously build community, we call that working in the ‘sweet spot.’”

Even before the two sets of classes had completed their program, the Annie E. Casey Foundation began organizing Institute participants to participate in decisions about what would be built on the 31.4 acres. Based primarily on topics taught in the Institute’s program, participants selected areas of interest in which they wanted to gain further expertise. With the assistance of the foundation’s Neighborhood Transformation team, participants have met with experts in their chosen field, faculty from Georgia Tech and other colleges and universities, and other interested neighborhood residents to make recommendations about the vision they would like to create. The recommendations need to be approved by the Annie E. Casey Foundation after which they will be implemented.

Could this be a refreshingly new way of conducting community economic development efforts in the United States? Brice believes so.

“This was an untested pilot program where for the first time that I’m aware of economic development concepts were formally taught in the hopes of empowering individuals to take more control over their communities,” she said. “It has surpassed the expectations of all involved including, most importantly, the residents themselves. I’m sure this will be the beginning of a new way of approaching community economic development in other areas.”

About 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.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Georgia’s Invention Activity is Growing and Focused on Technology, First-Ever Comprehensive Survey Shows

Independent patenting activity has grown rapidly in Georgia over the past 30 years, with nearly 8,000 patents issued since 1975 to inventors not associated with corporations, universities or similar organizations.

A new study has found that nearly half of the products created by these inventors were in non-consumer areas, mainly in technologies such as medical devices, energy and the environment, and automotive applications. Despite their productivity, the study found that less than a third of the inventors realized commercial success with their patents.

These findings were among the conclusions of the first-ever comprehensive survey of the state’s independent inventors. Conducted by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the findings suggest that the work of independent inventors could provide untapped economic potential for the state.

“There is a significant level of creativity and product development by individuals living throughout Georgia, and this activity is increasing,” said Joy Wilkins, manager of community innovation services at the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “As our survey showed, the needs of the independent inventor community are diverse and largely unmet, although there is a huge appetite for help among the inventors.”

Despite the economic potential and identified needs, Georgia currently has no organization or entity that focuses on the needs of independent inventors on a statewide basis, Wilkins noted.

The survey identified the top needs of inventors, which included:

* Statewide networking for the independent inventor community,
* Greater advisement on available financial resources,
* Assistance in marketing,
* Better channels for linking with appropriate manufacturers,
* Greater access to third-party technical product evaluation,
* Business development assistance,
* Effective prototyping and design assistance,
* Help in understanding the invention, patent and commercialization processes, and * Professional development and training.

“Beyond developing a greater understanding of the scope and nature of independent invention activity in our state, we wanted to conduct this survey to identify three areas: unmet needs, ingredients for success and effective resources for inventors,” Wilkins explained. “If we can understand the needs of inventors and how Georgia Tech can better connect these idea artists to helpful resources, there is a real potential to boost commercialization and economic development throughout the state.”

The research yielded some interesting demographics about Georgia’s independent inventor community. More than half had at least a four-year college degree; more than half were between the ages of 45 and 64; the majority was male; and approximately one-fourth held management and professional occupations or were self-employed. There also appeared to be a tendency for independent inventors to belong to moderately high to higher income households.

The study also found that Georgia’s independent patenting activity is broad-based, with all but seven of the state’s 159 counties home to at least one patent. Although the Atlanta region accounted for more than half of the inventors participating in the survey, 43 percent hailed from beyond the state’s most urbanized region. Outside of Atlanta, the Gainesville region accounted for the second largest share of participants, followed by the Athens and Augusta regions.

When asked what motivated their activity, the independent inventors cited reasons related to their jobs more than any other – including a need, problem, or potential efficiency recognized because of the inventor’s line of work, with such reasons accounting for 30 percent of all responses given. Factors relating to making their personal life easier were the second most frequently mentioned. Money was mentioned as a motivator only to a slight degree.

Overall, reported experiences by inventors revealed that approximately one-third of inventors achieved some level of commercial success through independent production and sales, licensing, and/or sale of a patent. Although more than half (60 percent) reported they’d not achieved success at the time of the survey, approximately 32 percent of the inventors said they did experience some commercial success for at least one of their inventions.

Independent production and sales, or wrapping a company around the patented product, appeared to the most frequented vehicle to success. Licensing patents to another entity appeared to be the second most successful vehicle to commercialization, as 9 percent of all inventors – or more than one-fourth (28 percent) of successful inventors – reported they had realized success through such a path for one or more of their inventions. Another five percent reported they had achieved success through assigning or selling one or more of their patents to another entity.

The Georgia Tech researchers suggest that economic developers in Georgia consider independent inventors in strategies for economic development because collectively these inventors account for a larger share of patents than those owned by a single corporation or entity, including major research universities. The numbers bear out the dramatic increase in patents in Georgia: since 1975, independent inventors in Georgia received 9,042 patents – 1,759 from 1975 to 1985; 2,870 from 1986 to 1995; and 4,413 from 1996 to March 2006.

That economic potential is what motivated support from the EDA, which gave the project its Planning Performance Award.

“EDA’s investment in this research of inventors in Georgia – and the subsequent identification of ways to support invention commercialization – supports job creation and private investment throughout the state,” said Phil Paradice, EDA’s Atlanta regional director. “The project, which earned EDA’s Planning Performance Award for its collaborative efforts with state, local and federal entities, is consistent with our partners’ comprehensive economic development strategies.”

Utilizing the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the researchers determined that there were 6,845 independent inventors with a Georgia residence as of 2006. The survey pool consisted of 2,428 independent inventors, with participation by 331 inventors, a 13.6 percent return rate. Researchers analyzed more than 113,000 data points.

The survey’s results will spur development of a series of recommendations aimed at better meeting the needs of the inventors. “Using the results of the survey, we will make recommendations and identify pilot services, such as training workshops, to be implemented later this year,” Wilkins added.

For more information on community innovation services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Joy Wilkins (); E-mail: (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@snikliw.yoj).

About 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.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright

Study Shows That Attracting Retirees to Georgia Makes Economic Development Sense

Georgia has considerable potential to realize economic development gains from attracting retirees, but it lags behind neighboring states in doing so, according to a study completed earlier this year by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute for the Georgia Rural Economic Development Center at East Georgia College.

“While Georgia ranked sixth nationally in the total number of in-migrating retirees from 1995 to 2000, (it) had a net loss of retirees to Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina,” said the study’s report.  “Further development of housing options along with coordinated marketing of the viability of Georgia as a retirement destination can reverse the negative trend with these three neighboring states.”

Capturing market share in the senior-housing arena requires multidisciplinary approaches to address regulatory, policy, infrastructure and other issues, but – according to researchers – the benefits are “enormous,” especially given the coming surge of retiring baby boomers.  “With Georgia ranking in the top 10 of states attracting retirees,” they reported, “it is not unreasonable to expect that it could, with proper attention to policy changes, improve its share of the retirement services market to a projected 10 percent.”

What does that mean economically?  According to the research, with a 10 percent share of the market in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and active adult retirement communities (AARC), Georgia would see sizable gains in jobs and revenues.  For example, jobs related to CCRCs would increase by some 2,700, with each of the smallest regions gaining about 200 industry-related jobs.

Net state revenue for the industry’s expansion would be $6.43 million, and net local government revenues would rise by $2.5 million.  With AARCs, total jobs would increase by approximately 28,000, and even the smallest rural region would see an additional 1,000 jobs.  Net state revenue would increase by $82 million and local government revenues by $31 million.

Two keys to success of both CCRC and AARC development, according to the study, are having sufficient capital for predevelopment work (e.g. market assessment, site location) and knowing building requirements and pricing for the prospective market and its particular needs.

The report stated that several rural and suburban communities in Georgia can position themselves to reap significant economic, health care, and quality-of-seniors-housing benefits.  “We’re at the beginning of what can be a tsunami of health care and elder care economic opportunity,” said Georgia Tech’s Rick Duke of the study.

The project team included East Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, and Georgia State University, in addition to Georgia Tech.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of the Enterprise Innovation Institute newsletter Focus on Communities.

About 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.

Research News & Publications Office
Enterprise Innovation Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA

Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986); E-mail (ude.hcetag.etavonninull@noot.nhoj).

Writer: Nancy Fullbright