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Georgia Tech aims to spread artificial intelligence statewide with a federal grant, plus more business news you need to know.

A Georgia Tech–led coalition has a vision of transforming manufacturing across industries statewide with artificial intelligence, while NCR has double vision and one of the newest manufacturers moving into Georgia is doubling down on what it means to be green. 

AIMing High 

The federal Economic Development Administration has awarded a $65 million Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant to Georgia Tech and its partners in the Georgia Artificial Intelligence Manufacturing Technology Corridor. 

The project is among 21 nationwide receiving $25 million to $65 million each in the $1 billion program. 

Known as GA-AIM, the project intends to use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to improve manufacturing across all industries in every corner of Georgia and boost resilience against future pandemics or other supply chain disruptions. 

The goals include boosting women’s participation in manufacturing from 18 to 23 percent of the workforce and Blacks’ portion from 6 to 15 percent within five years and to 30 percent each within a decade. 

“Artificial intelligence is becoming a ubiquitous feature of successful industry and manufacturing practices, and the GA-AIM coalition’s efforts will help sustain and grow domestic manufacturing potential without leaving its workers behind,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in announcing the grant. 

GA-AIM will double the size of Georgia Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing Pilot Facility to 48,000 square feet and change its name to the AI Manufacturing Pilot Facility, launch educational initiatives at all levels, create a mobile innovation lab, and support the commercialization of startup technologies. 

Four regions will receive special focus: shipping and distribution in Savannah; training for military families around Albany; flooring in Dalton; and poultry and advanced manufacturing in the Gainesville area. 

More than 50 companies signed up to be part of the project before the grant was announced, and Georgia Tech reports that 16 of them documented a projected combined benefit of 28,800 jobs created, 10,000 jobs saved, and $106 million in private investment over four to five years. 

NCR Cashing Out 

Atlanta-based NCR, the cash register manufacturer-turned-financial technology company, plans to split itself in two. 

One company, with the working name CommerceCo, will start with $4 billion in annual revenue by providing digital services in such areas as retail, hospitality, and digital banking. It’s an innovation-driven growth business. 

The other company, ATMCo, is a cash machine, producing steady revenue by providing the software powering ATMs and their networks and moving into areas such as digital currency. It has $3.8 billion in revenue.  

NCR might not need to develop better names for its two successors, however: The company remains open to selling the whole business if the price is right by the end of 2023. 

Making Green Thumbs Greener 

A $35 million wood fiber processing plant is bringing 80 jobs to Monticello in Jasper County as early as October. 

Profile Products is an Illinois-based agricultural tech company that turns recycled wood chips into water-absorbing, soil-conserving fibers whose applications include mulch for horticulture, erosion control, and sports fields. 

“Georgia offers a great workforce that embraces an aspiration to improve our environment,” Profile Products CEO Jim Tanner said in a press release. “The world is asking for sustainable technologies. We’re building them.” 

Profile plans to expand the facility, its third in the Southeast, over the next three years. 

We’re No. 1; Roll Credits 

No state has come close to Georgia’s film and video employment growth the past decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced September 12. 

From 2011 to 2021, Georgia added 15,611 jobs in those industries. Louisiana was a distant No. 2 with 1,685 jobs. All 11 non-Georgia states that gained movie and video jobs over that 10-year period added a combined 8,297 jobs, just 53 percent of Georgia’s increase. 

“Well, that kind of happens when taxpayers cover 30 percent of the cost of filming with no caps,” Kennesaw State University economist J.C. Bradbury tweeted, referring to Georgia’s tax credit program. He included a chart that shows the value of certified film credits rising from $222 million in 2011 to $1.204 billion in 2021. 

After the period studied, as GaBiz reported at the end of August, Georgia set a record with $4.4 billion in spending by TV and film companies in the fiscal year that ended June 30. 

Zooming out for a wider perspective, Georgia added 15,800 nonfarm jobs in August compared with July, more than the film industry added over a decade. Total state employment grew by 226,500 from August 2021 to August 2022 as the state unemployment rate fell from 3.7 to 2.8 percent. 

Expanding Joints 

The state Economic Development Department has shared news of expansions for two manufacturers operating in Georgia: 

  • New Jersey-based roofing and waterproofing manufacturer GAF Materials plans to spend $146 million over six years on a new facility in Valdosta. The plant will add 135 employees to the 225 people who work at GAF plants in Cumming, Savannah, and Statesboro.
  • Brunswick-based Troy Acoustics, which makes sound-stifling walls for uses such as highways, shooting ranges, basketball courts, and animal shelters, is building a plant in Thomasville for almost $40 million. The company will add 88 jobs to its current workforce of 17 when the facility opens in 2024.