When it comes fostering technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, we often think of resources at Tech Square, Atlanta Tech Village, or the Alpharetta Technology Commission. And while these and others are growing Georgia’s ecosystem, a new player is entering the fold to become the next nexus of support, the Innovation Alliance of DeKalb.
The two men ready to roll up their sleeves and become “economic gardeners” are Albert Irvin and Delleon McGlone, co-founders of the Innovation Alliance. Hype recently sat down with Irvin and McGlone to dig up how they hope to cultivate this trifecta in DeKalb County and beyond.
About IA of D:
Innovation Alliance of DeKalb (IA of D) believes that technology, innovation and entrepreneurship can be the catalyst to economic revitalization and community transformation in DeKalb County and Metro Atlanta. The organization was created to make a dynamic impact in the areas of economic, workforce and community development by growing and nurturing the innovation ecosystem within the county.
IA of D is filling the resource gap around technology and innovation that exist within the various stakeholders – public entities, businesses, entrepreneurs, educational systems (primary thru college) in the Metro Atlanta region – with an emphasis in DeKalb County.
How do you stand out?
There really are no “direct” competitors within the geographical area of DeKalb. IA of D is currently the only organization within DeKalb that is primarily focused on driving the innovation ecosystem of the county.
There are various organizations that have programs or resources that support or help grow the overall ecosystem. But, we are the only organization in this dynamic county that is 100% focused on growing, nurturing the innovation ecosystem in DeKalb County.
On a Metro Atlanta scale, IA of D’s mission is comparable to numerous organizations (i.e. Technology Association of Georgia, Alpharetta Technology Commission). In our early stages, we have not achieved the same level of impact that these established organizations have achieved, but we are unique because our designated area – DeKalb County – has some of the most valuable innovation assets in the nation within its boundaries.
Technology has shown to have significant impacts on every aspect of our lives. The county has some awesome technology/innovation resources that currently exist within the geographical area of DeKalb – Center for Disease Control, Emory University, Cox Enterprises – to name a few. By growing the ecosystem and be a nexus for resources, IA of D will look to affect numerous aspects of the DeKalb County community – small business growth, educational resources, bridge the digital divide, etc.
How’d you get the idea for it?
The co-founders saw the same opportunity from two different perspectives:
Delleon was working in the technology education sector and continued the high concentration of resources around technology in downtown Atlanta and ITP. But, the individuals that lived in his immediate area did not have the same access to resources and opportunities in the technology area.
Due to his work with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Albert was able to see first-hand gap between the dynamic resources that currently exist in DeKalb. He recognized that there was an opportunity to create an organization that could be the nexus of resources associated with technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Stats and facts about technology:
- Students benefit economically from STEM education. By 2018, 1 in 20 global jobs will be STEM-related — an estimated 2.8 million jobs in total.
- Today, there are over half a million unfilled information technology jobs, these make up roughly 12% of the approximately 5 million job openings. IT is the largest occupational category for open jobs right now.
- Internet-based businesses facilitate broader economic activity across a series of economic agents. Such broad impact is far greater than these businesses’ own size: in 2014 Facebook – a company with an approximately $8 billion cost base – enabled global economic impact of $227 billion (and 4.5 million jobs globally).
Funding or bootstrapped?
The Innovation Alliance of DeKalb is a bootstrapped venture. Some of our initial funding has come from the tremendous support of our personal and professional contacts. The co-founders have also invested the necessary funds to get the organization established.
IAof D’s main revenue sources are corporate sponsorships, private donations, and grant funding.
The industry standard for non-profits is to dedicate a min. of 80% of revenue towards the execution of programs and events that align with the organization’s mission. Our organization will strive to be at or exceed the industry standard.
One of the key goals of the organization is engaging technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship enthusiasts to help the organization advocate for technology and business friendly resources on a county and regional scale.
How does Metro Atlanta weave into your story?
Someone told me a couple of months ago that the “battle” for growth in the technology area should not be the city of Decatur vs. the city of Alpharetta or Cobb County vs. Clayton County, etc. Our focus should be metro Atlanta, collectively, claiming its space on a national and global scale.
The focus should be on the region growing and shining. So, DeKalb County, and its cities, extending the viability of its innovation ecosystem has significant regional implications. As the resources and assets of DeKalb grow and thrive – it raises the attractiveness of the entire region.
We are excited because our work with IA of D has the potential to have a regional effect on economic development, workforce development and community development.