Perhaps you saw the August 2011 report of new jobs created in the United States: Zero.
Zero new jobs, and unemployment holding steady at 9.1%. I’m sure the month of August can account for quite a few gray hairs on President Obama’s head.
While our nation’s economic engine has trickled to a zero, Hattiesburg is shifting into sixth gear. So far in 2011, three companies have selected our region as a location to expand: a solar company from Silicon Valley, a medical product company from Italy, and most recently a high-tech company that will develop the world’s future jet engines. Together, these companies will bring 1,500 high tech jobs to our local economy.
In our present economic recession, 1,500 high paying jobs warrant a tremendous celebration. But because you’re a critical and smart reader, you’re probably asking, “Ok, so what are we doing to create jobs for the rest of 2011, 2012, and beyond?”
Quite a lot, actually. Let me explain.
Consider this: Over half of new companies fail in the first five years of operation. Well if we want to create new jobs, what can we do to help the new companies succeed?
Great question. We can invest in business incubators. Some studies have shown that if a company is located in a business incubator, a company’s chance of surviving the first five years is doubled. Additionally, about 85% of incubator company graduates remain in their founding region.
Think about those large companies that are expanding in our region, some of which started in a business incubator. At one time, these companies only consisted of one single person with an idea for a great product. That person invested their own time, talent and money into that product. That product transformed into a company, and today that company is hiring your classmate, your neighbor, and maybe even you.
Today, over 200 universities around the globe operate a business incubator. An incubator provides basic resources to young companies in order to increase their ability to survive the first critical years of operation.
In March of 2010, The University of Southern Mississippi opened a very unique technology-focused incubator, called The Accelerator. It is unique because it contains most the physical assets needed for a company to design and launch a new product - from the idea to manufacturing. No other business incubator in the world offers the resources that we provide. The National Formulation Science Laboratory, Mississippi Polymer Institute, and pilot and manufacturing facilities are all located underneath one roof.
Under The Accelerator’s roof, USM supports 10 technology companies. Each of our companies is materials science-based, have clearly defined growth goals, and any of them could be the next company to hire 500 people in our region. USM, the City of Hattiesburg, and the State of Mississippi have all invested in The Accelerator because they know that technology companies are the keystone for our future regional economy and job creation.
Sunny Webb serves as Executive Director of The Accelerator.This column will highlight our region’s brightest technology-related employees who work with The Accelerator. To learn more about our companies, check out our website: www.TheAcceleratorMS.com
Technology Company Leader Profile
Name: Kimberly R. Wright
Education: BS Health Related Profession/Biology from William Carey University
Company: KDL Solutions, LLC
Company website: http://www.kdlsolutionsLLC.com
Description of technology or product name: KDL ID Enhancer Spray, which rehydrates and enhances ridge detail on fingerprints.
Q: How did you get involved in what you’re doing now?
A: I went to the University of Southern Mississippi to meet with Dean Bertram about a poster session I was presenting in Long Beach Calif. Dean was very impressed with my research, and asked me would I consider taking the research a little further. We've been a team since.
Q: Why do I enjoy working with my company?
A: I love working with my company and partners; we have a great relationship. We are a team of educated people that achieve business success through vision, clear goals, and our products. We all bring to the table our individual expertise.
Q: How will my company’s products impact our world?
A: Our products impact the world by identifying the lost and protecting the innocent through technology that is reliable and quickly accessible.