As part of its relationship with Georgia Tech, Georgia Piedmont Technical College has been named one of 21 winners of President Biden’s $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The BBBRC has been called the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades. Its aim is to boost economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic with a focus on communities suffering from decades of disinvestment. Georgia Piedmont will partner with the Georgia Tech Research Corporation in an initiative known as GA-AIM, or the Georgia AI Manufacturing coalition. Georgia Tech was awarded approximately $65 million with Georgia Piedmont’s award being about $1.5 million. That funding will be used to invest in faculty, equipment, and training in the booming semiconductor sector of the AI industry in the state.
“Being part of the Build Back Better grant is huge for Georgia Piedmont Technical College,” said GPTC President Dr. Tavarez Holston. “These funds will allow us to implement the state’s first semiconductor manufacturing academic program where students can earn a degree, certificate, and/or technical certificate of credit.” Holston says the College is in the process of hiring qualified faculty and hopes the program will be up and running in fall of 2023.
Recent disruptions like ransomware attacks, supply chain issues, a lack of a technically qualified workforce and, of course, COVID-19 have left many Georgia communities struggling. The pandemic in particular took a huge toll on minority and rural communities in the state. Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s service delivery area of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties include many of those minority and rural communities.
“Microchip production is a national priority; this initiative is Georgia’s response to contribute,” Dr. Holston said. “I’m excited that this grant will allow an underserved workforce to participate in making a significant impact on our state and country. It’s a bonus that these careers are high-demand, high-pay careers.”
The GA-AIM coalition consists of 65 government and industry partners. The grant narrative reports “16 participating private sector companies project the creation of some 28,000 jobs and $100,000,000 of private investment in 4-5 years.” The report goes on to state that AI is the top technology investment need of manufacturers. The broader impact of this investment will be far-reaching, with positive effects on several of the top economic sectors in the state – real estate, finance, information, and government. Broken down, for every AI manufacturing job created by GA-AIM, 2.7 jobs in other areas will be created.