Warner Robins, GA – Millions in federal grant money is headed to Central Georgia to support a statewide initiative combining artificial intelligence and manufacturing innovations with transformational workforce and outreach programs. The grant, totaling $65 million through the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge and state-matched funding, is awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Georgia Institute of Technology, includes financial contributions to Central Georgia Technical College, the Houston County Development Authority, and Fort Valley State University through the 21st Century Partnership.
“The 21st Century Partnership is proud to be a member of the GA-AIM coalition,” said Brigadier General John Kubinec, USAF (ret.), President and Chief Executive Officer of the 21st Century Partnership. “Middle Georgia will receive over $4M over the next four years to advance innovation, workforce development, and STEM education in support of the manufacturing and, of course, Robins Air Force Base. We are working with a great group\ of partners; Fort Valley State University for the development and deployment of a mobile STEM education learning lab to reach underserved areas of our region, the Middle Georgia Innovation Project, led by the Development Authority of Houston County, to advance innovation in our businesses, Central Georgia Technical College with a focus on robotics, and others. Of course, this is just the start, and the real work is ahead of us. This grant will help us turn our vision for both the Middle Georgia Innovation Project and the Middle Georgia STEM Alliance, along with our partners, into reality, advancing this region and supporting the future of Robins AFB.”
CGTC President Dr. Allen speaks about GA-AIM with partner organizations 21st Century Partnership, Houston County Development Authority, Fort Valley State University, and Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.
The grant aims to increase job and wage opportunities in distressed and rural communities, as well as among historically underrepresented and underserved groups. It comes as part of the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Technology Corridor (GA-AIM). “The Development Authority and the 21st Century Partnership lead the Middle Georgia Innovation Project, which includes 11 counties in the Middle Georgia Region, a diverse landscape of communities from rural to urban,” said Angie Gheesling, Executive Director of the Houston County Development Authority.
“This award further facilitates the continuation of several years of collaboration between local leadership, our colleges and universities, private industry, and Robins Air Force Base to position ourselves as a Software Center of Excellence. We are grateful to Georgia Tech for the opportunity to partner and contribute to the overall future success of GA-AIM.”
To support the mission of GA-AIM, education is essential in reaching the economic development goals of the grant. Both Central Georgia Technical College and Fort Valley State University will receive monies to purchase new artificial intelligence software and mechanics.
“The enormous energy of this collaboration has allowed us to secure much needed funding to support our efforts to brand Central Georgia as a defense, military, and industry friendly region,” said Dr. Ivan Allen, President of Central Georgia Technical College. “This funding will help bring emerging technology throughout our service area and beyond, to our students, economy, and Robins Air Force Base. Thanks to the power of this partnership, our faculty and students will have the opportunity to work directly with modern manufacturing technology, giving our students the experience and education needed to transition from the classroom to the workforce in an in-demand industry.”
“As an 1890 land-grant university, FVSU has a unique mission of offering educational opportunities and conducting applied research and outreach programs in agriculture and food production, primarily to empower underrepresented farmers and community members with the knowledge and skills needed to sustain agribusinesses. Through this project, we will educate small-scale producers in digital technology and precision agriculture to enhance farm productivity and sustainability,” said Dr. Paul Jones,
President of Fort Valley State University. “We will also be engaged in training K-12 teachers and students in advanced digital technology that will increase the number of students pursuing STEM careers in Middle Georgia.” Purchases will include state-of-the-art manufacturing studios presenting modern
manufacturing skills, as well as other educational resources.
This announcement is released jointly by Central Georgia Technical College, The 21st Century
Partnership, Houston County Development Authority, and Fort Valley State University. Contact
information can be found below.
About the Grant
The grant, also known as the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, is one of Economic Development Administration’s programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future
economic shocks. As a part of this funding, EDA allocated $300 million through a Coal Communities Commitment to support coal communities in pandemic recovery and help them create new jobs and opportunities, including through the creation or expansion of a new industry sector. Specifically, EDA has dedicated $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic
Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities. Grantees for EDA’s full suite of American Rescue Plan programs will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.
About Central Georgia Technical College
Central Georgia Technical College, a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, offers credit instruction, adult education, and customized business and industry training through traditional and distance education delivery designed to promote community and workforce development.
The College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees and many programs hold industry-specific accreditations, licensure, and approvals from various state and national agencies. More information can be found at www.centralgatech.edu
Amyre Makupson, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Central Georgia Technical College
About Fort Valley State University
Fort Valley State University is a talent incubator for students who believe in their brilliance. Located in the heart of Georgia, FVSU combines the personal attention and family feel of a small, private college with the resources and research found at large public universities. Located on the second-largest acreage of any Georgia university, it is the only university in the world which at once is a University System of Georgia institution, a historically black university, and an 1890 land-grant institution, with a directive to use knowledge to improve the lives of students and non-students alike.
Historically referred to as “the light in the valley,” FVSU’s legacy is built upon the belief that every human being is entitled to limitless learning and the benefits of knowledge. Leveraging the reputation for excellence FVSU has built since 1895, the university is preparing students to embrace their genius as future global leaders and enabling discovery that will make real that which is only now imagined. That’s why our motto and tagline is “empower the possible.” Visit FVSU.edu
Govind Kannan, Vice President of Economic Development and Land-Grant Affairs, Fort Valley State
About the 21st Century Partnership
The 21st Century Partnership is a Georgia 501(c)3 nonprofit with the dedicated mission of ensuring the long-term viability of Robins Air Force Base and the entire Middle Georgia region. To learn more about the 21stCentury Partnership, visit www.21stcenturypartnership.com
Debra Cox, Executive Assistant/Community Relations, 21st Century Partnership
Lori Freeman, Executive Assistant/RAFB Community Relations, 21st Century Partnership
About the Houston County Development Authority
The Development Authority is the lead economic development organization for Houston County responsible for new company recruitment and serving as a liaison for existing industries. For more information, visit www.houstoncountyga.net
Amelia Spinks, Communications and Operations Coordinator, Houston County Development Authority