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, and 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.”

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.