It’s been quite a ninety days for EI2.
In November, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named Georgia Institute of Technology the winner of its 2014 “Innovation” award for our statewide economic development efforts in a number of sectors.
In December, the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) named Technology Square its “2014 Outstanding Research Park Award” winner. Georgia Tech was called out as a key collaborator in building Tech Square. Since launching 10 years ago, Tech Square has emerged to become one of the premier research and innovation centers in the country, and a model for others to follow.
And in January, NCR announced the relocation of their world headquarters to Technology Square. That could mean as many as 4000 jobs being added to the vibrant mix of education, research, public service, and private-sector companies that are already here. As I’ve been saying for years, “economic development” once meant building factories next to rivers to take advantage of water power. Now, it means building creative-class workspaces next to a research university to take advantage of brainpower.
Triple Crown of Endorsements
As I said, that’s a remarkable ninety days. Three different worlds — academia, research, and corporate America — have independently endorsed EI2’s efforts on behalf of Georgia Tech.
Last summer, I wrote on this blog:
I host a lot of visitors to campus — from other universities, from other states, from industry, and even from other countries. I love telling our story because, as I often say internally; “It’s easy when all I have to do is tell the truth!”
It’s even more true with external endorsements like this recent Triple Crown.
What amuses me is that our strategy — and, to a large extent, our implementation — haven’t really changed. GT President Wayne Clough and Governor Roy Barnes already had the vision when they announced the “Fifth Street Project” in 2000. Fifteen years later, the world is taking note. In the last few weeks, as the public face of EI2, I’ve been interviewed on local radio, TV, and newspapers. Although the audiences are new, the message hasn’t changed.
I remember an interview with the Dixie Chicks during the height of their popularity. One of singers bristled at being called an “overnight success”… they played “barbeque joints, nursing homes, grocery stores, and street corners” for a decade before hitting the big time in Nashville. I feel the same way. We’ve been spreading our brand of university-based economic development for a decade… but only now are people listening. Endorsements like the three we’ve received in the last three months really help.
We’re not done. The new advanced-computing research building on Spring Street will anchor Tech Square Phase II with 600,000 square feet of new space, supporting new opportunities in interdisciplinary research, commercialization and sustainability. We’re beginning to talk, very quietly, about Tech Square Phase III. And in the longer term, there’s potential for “North & Northside” — a new mixed-use development anchored by the North Avenue Research Area and Technology Enterprise Park — to transform the west side of campus just as Tech Square has transformed Midtown.
The brainpower of Georgia Tech is amazing. One of EI2’s main roles is to help connect that brainpower to the economy of Georgia. It’s working, and others are noticing. Y’all are doing a great job. Keep it up!