Atlanta Business Chronicle, Feb 5, 2016
Georgia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is booming, sparking new opportunities for inventors and visionaries across the state to launch new, transformative solutions every day.
While access to startup resources has steadily increased over the past few years, much of it has been restricted to Atlanta’s urban center — out of reach for the millions of Georgians living, working and studying outside city limits. Not anymore!
Cobb County Chamber’s newly devised “Competitive Edge” program is revolutionizing the entrepreneurial landscape outside Atlanta. This game changing, community-wide, public-private partnership is leading Cobb County’s first ever comprehensive and economic development strategy for job creation across the county.
As part of this strategy, Georgia’s third largest university, Kennesaw State University, was tapped by the Cobb Chamber to partner in the formation of the Georgia Business Success Center, now known as IgniteHQ. Kennesaw State University recently ranked as one of the nation’s “Most Innovative Schools” in U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 Best Colleges issue.
IgniteHQ, Cobb’s brightest business incubator, is extending Atlanta’s startup ecosystem outside the perimeter, broadening Georgia’s innovation landscape. Through physical workspace, training and access to mentors, labs and capital, IgniteHQ’s collaborative environment sparks invention and empowers entrepreneurs to launch successful ventures on a global scale.
A hybrid of modern day business incubator and co-working hub, IgniteHQ is being developed to meet the unique needs of cutting edge inventors and problem solvers not wanting to commute long distance for networking and support. IgniteHQ will provide access to mentors, advisers, partners and capital investors. We are poised to be not only the leading incubator in the area, but one of the most successful in the state.
Research shows that only 3 percent of the region’s growth will stem from recruiting companies from outside the region over the next few years. By growing our innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem and helping companies connect to talent, capital and customers, we are helping the region thrive.
Small businesses are truly the backbone of our economy. The warm and welcoming environment in Cobb County makes it an ideal place for new businesses to start and grow.
Cobb County is exploding with the new development and thoughtful quality of life design. The Atlanta Braves picked Cobb as the home of their new SunTrust Park. Battery Atlanta is adding the first class A office space seen in this area in years. The Franklin Road Corridor transformation and Revival on Main in downtown Kennesaw gives young professionals the same “urban-type” environment they enjoy inside the perimeter.
According to the Kauffman Foundation, most jobs in the next five years will come from companies that don’t exist today. In Cobb County and in partnership with Kennesaw State University, IgniteHQ will focus on engineers and architects tinkering in their basements.
We will encourage the innovative energy efficiency creations by KSU students. We’ll partner with our STEM-related academics and professionals to support new invention in life sciences and we’ll embolden innovation in “big data” and cybersecurity. In addition, KSU is host to “Game Jam,” a global event where hundreds of people from all walks of life share in the innovation of gaming for fun and business.
Studies show the most successful innovation hubs partner with universities and have the support of their alumni and local community. With backing from Cobb County, Kennesaw State University and local business, IgniteHQ will provide the credibility needed in this region to make it a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem for Cobb County and metro Atlanta.
Nancy Wright Whatley is executive director of Georgia Business Success Center, doing business as IgniteHQ.