UNG Receives Google.org Grant for Entrepreneurship
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The University of North Georgia (UNG) received a $200,000 grant from Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, for the development of entrepreneurial resources in rural communities. In partnership with Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce, the Lumpkin County School District, and the Development Authority of Lumpkin County, the grant funding will commission a study to map the existing resources that support innovation and entrepreneurship in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County and identify needed resources that don’t currently exist in order to create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Georgia’s historic economic success is unfolding in all four corners of the state,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “As a result of developing strong partnerships with public and private stakeholders on the local level, communities in north Georgia are increasingly benefitting from private-sector investments like this that will continue to spur transformational job creation, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
“The generous grant from Google.org in support of rural communities comes at a perfect time as we are bringing on a new director for our Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the next few months, and as the community is continuing to build its focus on attracting and growing new ventures for the area,” Dr. Mary Gowan, dean of UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business (MCCB), said. “Senator Gooch made the connection for us, and once again demonstrated his commitment to opening doors for new initiatives for the university and the community.”
With a heavy STEM focus at UNG and the Lumpkin County School System, this grant will also allow the partnering groups to create programming to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the area.
“This partnership between UNG, the Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce, the Lumpkin County School District, and the Development Authority of Lumpkin County offers an ideal avenue to provide the services entrepreneurs in our region need,” state Sen. Steve Gooch said. “The gift provided by Google.org, in support of rural communities, is critical to the mission as the partners strive to develop and support the entrepreneurial pipeline in rural north Georgia. I look forward to seeing the creative ideas our area residents will put in motion thanks to the support they will have through this collaboration.”
UNG’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is developing a broader footprint to include community programming. Computer science and cybersecurity are STEM programs housed in the MCCB and an area of growing interest for entrepreneurial activity, along with health care and other STEM programs at UNG.
“Google is proud to call Georgia home. Our community partners and grant recipients are doing vital on-the-ground work in communities across the country, and we’re proud to support the future of innovation and entrepreneurship in Lumpkin County,” Lilyn Hester, head of Southeast External Affairs & Government Relations for Google. “Increasing access to computer science and STEM programming is important to Google, because it’s important to the future of our country and our communities.”
The Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce recently developed a co-working space, providing a place for small businesses, nonprofits, and start-up businesses to gain access to high-speed internet, workspace, conference rooms and other resources that would otherwise not be accessible to them.
“It’s a good way for us to merge resources and open partnerships with the university for the business community,” Robb Nichols, Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce executive director, said.
UNG, Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber of Commerce, the Lumpkin County School District, and the Development Authority of Lumpkin County will create learning opportunities to inspire innovation and entrepreneurial thinking in the community. This will include a local “Innovation Pitch” competition where community participants will be matched with a mentor, and winners will receive both mini-grants and an opportunity to participate in an accelerator to move their ventures forward. This model will also be implemented in local high schools in the future.
“We have an opportunity to cultivate something larger through partnership for long-term benefits to the community,” Rebecca Mincey, Lumpkin County community and economic development director said. “The grant has brought us together, and these efforts extend beyond one-time commitments.”
Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, product donations and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. It engages nonprofits, social enterprises and civic entities who make a significant impact on the communities they serve, and whose work has the potential to produce scalable, meaningful change.
Article By: Clark Leonard