Atlanta Resurgence Grant Fund

Applications open Aug. 10-31, 2020

The Resurgence Grant Fund offers up to $40,000 to help cover pandemic-related costs plus a credit of up to $10,000 of no-cost technical assistance services.

We encourage manufacturers in Atlanta to review the eligibility requirements. Let us know if we can help you prepare an application.

The 4th Annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit Uses Technology to Enhance Supply Chain

Because Industry 4.0 is not about disrupting business, it’s about disrupting you. 

Dr. Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer of Johnson & Johnson

How are you creating the next intelligent reality for your company? A body of minority business enterprises (MBEs), suppliers, engineers, corporations, and thought leaders gathered in Atlanta, Georgia from August 11 through August 13 to explore answers to that question. The Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Advanced Manufacturing Center at Georgia Tech organized the 4th Annual National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2019 to introduce the disruptive technologies and ideas driving the future of manufacturing.

Nearly 200 attendees participated in the three-day event. The Summit opened with a networking reception and ended with a manufacturing technology tour at the Kia Manufacturing Motor Georgia plant, all strategically driven around building partnerships and establishing sustainable business deals with a goal to help MBEs scale their companies. 

“The National MBE Manufacturers Summit has grown tremendously these past four years as we strive to help minority business enterprises implement the latest technologies,” said Donna Ennis, Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center director.

“As the must-attend event of the year for MBEs, the Summit is the opportunity for them to fully have an immersive experience in technology and innovation, network to expand and learn, and to do business with international conglomerates.”

Creating the NEXT: Intelligent Manufacturing Reality, the Summit’s theme, aimed to challenge dated practices by developing smarter procedures and technologies to enhance operations. It also focused on implementing innovative techniques to drive production with a goal of scaling and propelling business.

Speakers Josh Ghaim, Johnson & Johnson’s chief technology officer; Amir Ghannad, leadership development specialist and culture transformation catalyst of The Ghannad Group, LLC; the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency’s National Director Henry Childs II, and Christopher Hall, deputy director of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Defense Logistics Agency led compelling discussions around innovation, the prominent trends that are transforming the manufacturing industry, and the importance of introducing the Internet of Things (IoT) into factories today.

Industry 4.0 is not about industrialized labor,” Childs said. “It’s about industrialized intelligence. It’s transforming the business world. Every single thing you think you know about business, or business development, will be completely transformed in the next decade, because the future will be full of thinking, creating, adapting, and learning machines.”

Corporations and government agencies including the BMW Group, Siemens, the Defense Logistics Agency, Ingersoll Rand, The Home Depot, and Grady Health Systems participated in Fast Pitch sessions. These sessions gave the MBEs opportunities to give 15-minute pitches on how they could solve the firms’ challenges. More than 60 MBE manufacturers and 18 corporations participated, resulting in 138 fast pitch meetings.

“The opportunities afforded to attendees have been invaluable,” said Joe Lewis, CEO of Flentek Solutions, an Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center client and Summit participant. “All these people in one place, one meeting — I am able to build connections with all of them at one time.”

Launched in 2016, the National MBE Manufacturers Summit offers educational workshops and one-on-one meetings with large corporations, showcases innovation, and brings visibility to MBE manufacturers.

“The National MBE Manufacturers Summit is a voice for the voiceless in the manufacturing industry in our region. Many of us need this support to succeed in the future,” said Rony Delgarde, CEO of Global Paint for Charity.


The Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers help minority-owned enterprises succeed

Connections Make the Difference

Jamie Knodel

Like most matchmakers, the team that leads the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers (Atlanta MBDA Centers) can’t help but boast about the introductions it has made that have led to long-lasting and fruitful relationships.

There’s the work that Ochoa Construction, LLC and Cronos Contractors, LLC will be doing to complete the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design (the Living Building) on Georgia Tech’s campus. And the vendors, including SquarePac and DoverStaffing, who secured contracts to help make Super Bowl LIII a success at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Or Archie Deese, owner of The Paint Doctor, who initially had a small contract job that developed into a lasting relationship and work for Turner Construction Company.

In fact, millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs have come as a direct result of the Centers’ role in teaming minority specialty trade contractors with general contractors, facility management firms and builders.

The Atlanta MBDA Centers’ aim is to help minority business enterprises (MBEs) access capital, increase profitability, create jobs and become sustainable.

“MBEs often have difficulty securing opportunities because their access to building relationships is very limited,” says Donna Ennis, C.P.F., Project Director of the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers.

But building relationships is what Ennis and the MBDA Centers do. “We are a connections group,” she says. “We connect our companies to virtually every resource they need to grow.”

Access to Expertise

For MBEs, a relationship with the Atlanta MBDA Centers means access to a nationwide community of experts and individuals engaged in technology, innovation, leading-edge business practices and investing capital.

While the MBDA Centers will help assess MBEs—analyzing the financial and operational health of a company to identify strengths, weaknesses and needs—they also provide access to capital, markets and strategy work.

National Network of Support

Since it started 15 years ago, the Atlanta MBDA Business Center has supported companies by securing working capital, bonds, equity investments and debt financing, including Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Another core function has been to help boost a firm’s market share by identifying new markets, expanding the customer base, responding to requests for proposals and assisting with certification applications. The center also works to improve and implement a company’s organization and process through training and systems application.

The Atlanta MBDA Business Center belongs to a national network of more than 40 centers that advocate for the MBE community; however, its affiliation with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute makes it unique. “Being operated by a major institution of higher education gives us access to even more resources and expertise,” Ennis says.

Established in 2004, the Atlanta MBDA Business Center currently receives funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the state of Georgia through Georgia Tech, corporations and client fees. The federal agency awarded a five-year grant to the Atlanta-based organization in 2016, which provides funding through 2021. This grant provides $298,255 annually, for a total of $1.49 million.

Bridging the Gap

While it provides many of the same services and access as the Business Center, the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center caters to manufacturers and others directly connected to it, including logistics hubs and warehouses.

Launched in 2016, this institution bridges the gap between large corporate supply chains and MBE manufacturers by providing expertise and access to a national network of resources, partners and stakeholders. The staff provides a variety of services with the primary goal to increase business opportunities and the profitability of their clients.

Ennis and her team say that between the MBDA Business and Manufacturing Centers, they serve more than 200 clients each year. They’ve assisted countless others, but the focus is on established companies that generate more than 
$1 million in annual revenue and have been around for at least three years. The MBDA Centers are not designed to help launch a new business; rather, their purpose is to “help scale a company,” Ennis says.

That happens through strategic relationship building, which yields educational and mentoring opportunities for business owners and their teams. The MBDA Centers have partnered with The Blue Book Network, and that relationship has proven to be a major resource for the network. What’s more, the MBDA Centers in Atlanta are recognized for the assistance, expertise and resources that help create and retain work for MBEs.


A year ago, Ennis and her team launched START to Build. (The acronym START stands for Specialty Trades Aiming at the Right Targets.) This program identifies MBE subcontractors in specialty trades, such as electrical, roofing, HVAC, siding and more, and connects them with general contractors, developers and other firms.

“Not only is it our flagship program, but to our knowledge, it’s the only program of its kind, so it’s very special,” says Lauren Roberts, Program Specialist for the Atlanta MBDA Centers.

The general contractors come with a list of projects and needs, and they leave with the names of the MBDA Centers’ clients who are ready to bid for the work and begin developing a relationship. “The GCs aren’t just getting the names of specialty contractors, they’re getting companies that have been vetted and who can be counted on,” Ennis says. “Lots of people do matchmaking, but we do it at a different level.”

Ennis and her team are continually building out the program’s list of specialty contractors and construction divisions and are actively seeking to serve more MBEs. START to Build has already yielded more than $9 million in contracts, and Ennis is looking for ways to build on that success.

Vision for Growth

The staff at the Atlanta MBDA Business and Advanced Manufacturing Centers hope to accomplish the same things they push their clients to achieve: growth and long-lasting relationships. As these organizations work to expand throughout the southeast, Ennis’ vision is to serve even more MBEs and continue building a program that people look to first when seeking contractors for projects of any scale or size.

“We have all kinds of clients, and they inspire us and help us stay passionate about this mission,” she says. “To help a company create jobs is truly rewarding.”