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April 25, 2018

Growing Georgia as an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

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By: Lexie Newhouse

Invest Atlanta, The Metro Atlanta Chamber, TIE Atlanta/TYE University, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University and the I6 grant joined forces this past Tuesday in an effort to spur entrepreneurial education across the state through the Georgia University Entrepreneurship Initiative. The meeting was held at The Gathering Spot, an invite-only member’s club and diverse community of entrepreneurs, thinkers, creatives and connectors in Atlanta.

Jennifer Sherer, Vice President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, kickstarted the event with a warm welcome. Noelle London, Assistant Director Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Invest Atlanta, and Paul Lopez, President of TiE Atlanta, then shared their remarks on the importance of fostering cross-campus collaboration in developing entrepreneurship programs across Georgia.

In describing the terrain of Georgia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Charlton Cunningham, Executive Director of Startup Atlanta, shared that Atlanta is the 6th top city for entrepreneurship, jumping 15 spots since 2016. The city’s success is largely due to university talent, corporate involvement, diversity, connectivity and culture.

Within Atlanta, institutions like The Farm ATL Accelerators, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Switchyards, Atlanta Tech Village, Digital Undivided, Center for Civic Innovation, and countless others continue to fuel the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. These local incubators and accelerators prove to be effective models and examples for establishing similar programs within Georgia universities.

To highlight the student perspective, the event also featured a panel of student-entrepreneurs from across the state. Eboni Freeman of Ability Enabled represented Emory University, Nathan Foster of Enrich Gardening represented Georgia State University, Chris Dancy of Click-A-Shift represented Kennesaw State University, Nashawn Cherry of TBC represented Morehouse College, Jade Lockard of The inHous Company represented Spelman College, and Nikkita Gorgon of Cute and Cocky, LLC represented the University of West Georgia. Collectively, these students offered different perspectives to approach the entrepreneurial scene on campus.

In closing, Joey Ruse of Kennesaw State University led several round table facilitators in identifying the best practices and dialoging about cross-campus connections.

  • Jackie Davis of Georgia State University, “Entrepreneurial Events and Activities on University Campuses”
  • Noelle London of Invest Atlanta, “Effective Cross-Campus Communication Tools”
  • Paul Lopez of TiE Atlanta spoke on “Connecting Student Entrepreneurs Across Campuses”
  • Joey Rouse of Kennesaw State University, “Connecting Student Founders to Appropriate Funding Sources”
  • Amelia Schaffner of Emory University, “Bringing Atlanta’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem into the Classroom”

Through these discussions, universities had the opportunity to continue that cross-campus conversation to begin planning future steps for growing the Georgia University Entrepreneurship Initiative.

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