Austin Community College (ACC) is developing the college’s third incubator at ACC Highland to nurture businesses and grow a talent pipeline in Austin’s $12.3 billion manufacturing industry. A third of major employers in Central Texas are manufacturers, but the region lacks specialized facilities for start-up companies to grow and students to gain hands-on learning experience.
“This is the type of collaboration that generates growth for both our business community and our students. When business and education come together we build connections that make college affordable for everyone,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “The incubator model allows ACC to provide both the resources emerging manufacturing companies need to grow and the opportunities students need to get hands-on experience working side-by-side with industry. It’s exciting to see these missions come together under one roof.”
“ACC is yet again at the forefront of innovation in education and workforce development,” says Mayor Steve Adler, City of Austin. “This new manufacturing academy and incubator fill a significant community need and are exciting tools to help Austin open real opportunities for people who live here. ACC and its partners are helping to preserve Austin’s spirit and soul by investing in our people.”
The new IMPACT Lab, funded in part by a grant from the National Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program, will provide specialized facilities for manufacturing start-up companies to develop prototypes and products.
“We are excited about partnering with ACC in launching this new initiative for a prototyping lab,” says Mitch Jacobson, Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) executive director. “IMPACT Lab fosters connections between manufacturers, college graduates, university researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors. By galvanizing these connections, IMPACT Lab ensures that the region’s manufacturing industry continues to grow, lead, and reduce the cost and barriers to entry for physical product innovation. For ATI, having access to this new facility will help our startup companies escalate production and distribution of their breakthrough scientific discoveries.”
IMPACT lab is supported by local matching dollars from ATI, Autodesk, City of Austin, and Amazon Web Services. It also will support ACC’s growing Manufacturing academic programs and provide students with valuable paid internships in key areas including Engineering Technology, Architectural and Engineering Computer-Aided Design, Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management, and more.
The lab also will house a future ACC Manufacturing Academy. Developed in partnership with the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association (ARMA), the academy will offer high school students the opportunity to complete Dual Credit courses leading to an industry certificate with hands-on industry experience.
“Attracting talent is the No. 1 issue facing Central Texas manufacturers. The Academy addresses it head-on by creating a pipeline of qualified, skilled workers,” says Ed Latson, ARMA executive director. “This investment has the potential to be an enormous asset to the region for decades. The average wage in our sector is $90,000 a year. It will be a vital pathway for young people to find a meaningful career."
After high school graduation, Manufacturing Academy students are able to enter the workforce directly and/or continue their education at ACC or through a partner university.
IMPACT Lab construction will begin immediately in ACC Highland Phase 2. The facilities are expected to open in 2020. For more information about the ACC Highland redevelopment project, visit austincc.edu/vision. To learn more about ACC’s Manufacturing Program, visit austincc.edu/manufacturing.