The United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) has named Georgia Southern University as one of 51 nationwide grant recipients of the 2022 Build to Scale program, which means the University will receive $600,000 in grant funding along with $600,000 in local match funds. The goal is to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to entrepreneurial support and startup capital.
The University’s proposal, the “Coastal Empire Regional Ecosystem Strategy (CERES),” was selected as a finalist through Build to Scale’s Venture Challenge, which awards organizations that focus on supporting entrepreneurs. CERES is designed to accomplish this by strengthening the regional ecosystem of business outreach and development programs to meet the needs of underserved businesses more effectively. The initiative will focus on advancing early-stage business enterprises, with particular attention to minority, women, veteran and rural businesses.
The primary objective is that by 2025, at least 100 prospective or current entrepreneurs will receive assistance through CERES activities such as mentoring, training, workshops and application preparation for small business financing.
“Securing funding from the EDA Build to Scale Program is a testament that our effort and approach is resonating with funding agencies and that our region is well-positioned to compete on a national scale,” said Georgia Southern Associate Provost for Innovation and Director of the Business Innovation Group (BIG) Dominique Halaby, DPA.
As a department, BIG serves as the business and economic development outreach arm for the University. It is comprised of the EDA University Center, Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research, UGA Small Business Development Center, Innovation Incubator and FabLab. Over the past decade, BIG has assisted more than 3,000 entrepreneurs in creating 380 new businesses.
In addition to these internal units, CERES also relies on the support of external resource partners like regional municipalities, economic development organizations, and other growth-minded organizations to build an innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystem in the area.
One such partner is The Creative Coast, a nonprofit organization developed by the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the City of Savannah, which works to create high-wage, high-tech and creative jobs for Georgians.
“The Creative Coast is thrilled to partner with Georgia Southern University’s Business Innovation Group to launch this initiative and support entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the entire coastal region,” said Jen Bonnet, executive director of The Creative Coast.
With this funding and the expertise of its stakeholders, CERES will seek to create impact for the region’s entrepreneurs by offering a quarterly series on economic trends and opportunities, as well as orchestrating two annual demonstration days where University faculty will showcase commercialized research in the industry.
Georgia Southern University