Eric Morrissette Visits Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute

The Georgia MBDA Business Center (Georgia MBC) recently hosted Eric Morrissette, acting under secretary of commerce for minority business development, U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), for a site visit to the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) on April 22, 2024. Morrissette was there to demonstrate MBDA’s commitment to EI2 and Georgia MBC, which, as a federal funding agency, delivers value and support to Georgia MBC clients.

Morrissette was welcomed by David Bridges, vice president of EI2, the country’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. After Morrissette briefly introduced himself and his work, Bridges detailed the organization’s intent.

“Everyone who works at EI2 came here for a reason: to help people lift themselves up,” he said. “We are capacity builders; we want to be here to transfer knowledge to you. We are about economic opportunity for all,” he added, before launching a presentation that detailed the various components of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, as well as the Georgia MBC’s place within it. Funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Georgia MBC helps businesses access capital, increase profitability, and scale their businesses.

Donna Ennis, EI2’s director of community engagement and program development and the Center’s operator representative, spoke further on the Georgia MBC, while acknowledging the Southeast MBDA Business Growth Hub, stakeholders and strategic alliances, including program sponsors Ebco, Georgia Power Foundation, and Trane Technologies.

Ennis is also co-director of the Georgia Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (Georgia AIM), which works to drive adoption of AI in U.S. manufacturing, and she noted the ways in which that program dovetails with MBDA’s mission. Due to funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), Georgia AIM is reaching Georgia residents who are historically underrepresented in manufacturing. In addition, Ennis said, “We are always looking for gaps in the technological ecosystem and how we can fill [them].”

Jennifer Pasley, Georgia MBDA Business Center project director opened the floor for testimonials from clients, before Ennis initiated a general discussion where participants shared questions, concerns, and insights with Morrissette. Representatives from Southern Company, Atlanta Business League, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Supplier Development Council discussed the challenges facing businesses owned by socially and/or economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDIs). Georgia MBDA Center clients DoverStaffing/DoverSolutions, eSpin Technologies, Freeing Returns, IBEX, RYSE Creative Village, and The Royster Group shared their companies’ journeys to success with the Center’s assistance and the challenges they faced along the way including access to capital and opportunities.

Said Morrissette of his office’s mission, “I have the best job, because it is to create wealth in communities around this country. It’s allowing people to penetrate markets that haven’t been penetrated before, allowing them to realize their dreams and hopes in business. No part of my mandate [is] to just give out things. It’s allowing people who want something to better seize it … and my job is to show them how, through our networks.”

Georgia MBDA Business Center and Siemens USA Announce Winners of Siemens Entrepreneurship Grants

Gavin Ireland, founder of Georgia Green Energy Services, gives a presentation to Siemens and Georgia Tech leaders. (Photo: Allison L. Carter)

Georgia Green Energy Services, an Atlanta-based firm in the electrical construction industry, was recently awarded $20,000 from Siemens USA as part of the technology company’s ongoing commitment to expanding vendor diversity in the supply chain.

Founded by Gavin Ireland in 2007, Georgia Green Energy Services is one of nine Black-owned businesses across the country awarded the $20,000 Siemens Entrepreneurship Grant. The companies will join Siemens’ supplier database, which is comprised of more than 3,700 small and diverse businesses. That business segment represents more than a quarter of Siemens’ entire supplier base.

“What Siemens is doing is important because it’s impactful for the community and for business owners to be able to see that large corporations are making make these investments,” Ireland said. “It means a lot to me. A lot of times, as minority businesses, we have to work with limited resources, so this investment in us is very important.”

Siemens’ announcement was in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech.

The nine winning recipient businesses were selected from U.S. cities where Siemens has a significant footprint: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Sacramento. These grants, now totaling $320,000 over the past two years, complement the nearly $1 billion that Siemens USA spends annually doing business with small and diverse-owned firms.

“What we’re seeking are those minority enterprises that deserve to be highlighted within the whole network — the people who are really making a difference and showing the way and working on things that are absolutely essential to our future,” said Siemens CEO Barbara Humpton during a recent visit to Georgia Tech’s campus, where the announcement was made. “This is about being in a network

From left, Gavin Ireland, 2022 Atlanta Siemens Grant recipient; Leonard Wright, 2021 Atlanta recipient; Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton; Donna M. Ennis, director of the Georgia MBDA Business Center at Georgia Tech’s ’s Enterprise Innovation Institute; Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens USA head of Supply Chain Management for the Americas; David Bridges, vice president of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, and Jennifer Pasley Georgia MBDA Business Center program manager. (Photo: Allison L. Carter)

together and working together to create change.”

In January 2022, MBDA Business Centers in those cities nominated 37 Black-owned businesses to apply for the Siemens grants. Nominees were selected based on criteria and specialties that aligned with industry demand: preventative and predictive maintenance, fire and security, electrical, construction, rail and transport, mobility solutions, and facilities and project management. The Georgia MBDA Business Center evaluated and selected the winners.

In addition to Georgia Green Energy Services, the other selected businesses are:

  • Maven Construction – Boston
  • E-Fix Housing Solutions – Charlotte
  • GCC Enterprises, LLC – Dallas
  • Onyx Enterprise, Inc. – Detroit
  • Arbor Electrical Service, Inc. – Miami
  • Evans Electrical Services, Inc. – New York
  • A M Electric, Inc. – Philadelphia
  • AHI Construction, Inc. – Sacramento

“Siemens continues to show its commitment to Black-owned businesses through the Siemens Entrepreneurship Grant,” said Donna M. Ennis, C.P.F., director of the Georgia MBDA Business Center and director of Diversity Engagement and Program Development at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “The business community recognizes the importance of diversity and its economic impact on communities,” she said, noting that Georgia Green Energy Services is among the Georgia MBDA Business Center’s roster of clients.

“Grants and commitments like these not only provide a critical mechanism to enhance businesses’ viability through these challenging times, but to grow and thrive.”

Minority business enterprise manufacturers to meet in Atlanta August 15-16 for second annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit

Networking MBDA Summit 2016
Attendees of the inaugural National MBE Manufacturers Summit in Atlanta in 2016 discuss issues affecting minority business enterprises. (FILE PHOTO)

More than 250 minority business enterprise (MBE) manufacturers from across the country will be in Atlanta August 15 and 16 for the second annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017.

 

The Summit, which is hosted by the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Advanced Manufacturing Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Global Learning Center, brings together world-class leaders in manufacturing and is the premier event that brings industry peers together, facilitates networking and procurement opportunities, and highlights innovation.

 

BMW Group, Enhanced Capital, FORCAM, Grady Health System, Ingersoll Rand, Novant Health, Siemens, and WestRock are Summit sponsors.

 

Among the highlights for attendees of the 2017 Summit:

  • One-on-one fast pitch meetings with corporations and original equipment manufacturers.
  • Experiencing the most cutting-edge technologies through on-site “innovation pods.”
  • High-level exposure for companies participating in the second annual “Poster Walk Competition.”

 

Featured speakers include:

 

“We are building on the success of last year’s inaugural program, and a critical focus of this effort is innovation because it remains a key issue, according to our MBE manufacturers,” said Donna Ennis, Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center director. “Our Summit is designed to facilitate critical one-on-one meetings between our attendees and corporations, as well as provide the opportunity for our MBE attendees to network with one another.”

 

The Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center is a program of the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), Georgia Tech’s chief economic development and business outreach arm. A sister program to the Atlanta MBDA Business Center, the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center was created via a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce MBDA awarded to Georgia Tech in 2016.

 

One of four such centers across the country, Tech will receive $1.25 million over a five-year period to operate the Center, which is charged with providing targeted assistance to MBE manufacturers. The funding is designed to help identify, screen, promote, and refer MBEs to specialized advanced manufacturing programs, and provide technical and business development services and assist with access to capital, opportunities and markets.

 

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners, the number of minority-owned manufacturers increased 30 percent between 2007 and 2012 to nearly 107,000. These firms generated $80 billion in annual revenue in 2012. More than 25,000 minority manufacturers employ almost 332,000 workers.

The Summit is an outgrowth of the Atlanta MBDA Business Center’s Connecting Advanced Manufacturing Program (CAMP), which is now the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center, Ennis said. “The vision behind CAMP and what led to us creating the Summit is to connect MBE manufacturers in the ecosystem to business opportunities, research, innovation, funding, and critical information they need to grow and thrive as businesses,” she said.

 

To register for the Summit and for more information, please visit mbemanufacturersummit.com.

 

About the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center:

Focused on building a national ecosystem of minority business enterprise (MBE) manufacturers, partners, and stakeholders, the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center creates expansion opportunities for MBE manufacturers by facilitating their growth through innovation and technology, training and education, as well as advocating inclusiveness with corporate suppliers.

 

About the Atlanta MBDA Business Center:

As part of a national network of 42 centers, the Atlanta MBDA Business Center helps minority business enterprises access capital, increase profitability, create jobs, and become sustainable. It is part of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2), the nation’s largest and most comprehensive university-based program of business and industry assistance, technology commercialization, and economic development. For more information, please visit mbdabusinesscenter-atlanta.org.