Austin Community College to open new manufacturing incubator in 2020

Austin Community College's manufacturing incubator will be housed in a building currently under construction on the ACC Highland campus.

Austin Community College's manufacturing incubator will be housed in a building currently under construction on the ACC Highland campus.

Ed Latson, executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, said in the six years he has been working in his current position, the biggest challenge local manufacturers have faced is attracting and maintaining talent.

“There’s more than 1,700 businesses here, and they’re all thriving. They’re doing fantastic, but they’re throttled by people,” Latson said. “They have demand and customers. They don’t always have the skilled workforce to run their equipment and get the product out the door. Can you imagine anything more frustrating than that, as a business owner?”

A new incubator program at Austin Community College is looking to address that problem for the local manufacturing industry while also providing training for students and a space for start-up companies to grow.

The incubator will be housed in a building currently under construction on ACC’s Highland campus—one that is scheduled to open in 2020, according to ACC. It will become the third incubator on campus, joining the bioscience and fashion spaces. Each of the three are designed to fill a need in the local economy by combining space for local small businesses and entrepreneurs with opportunities for ACC students.

ACC President Richard Rhodes said the community college chose the specializations for the three incubators based on needs in the local economy identified by its partners, such as the city of Austin. Rhodes said the recent growth in manufacturing made that industry an obvious focal point for the community college.

According to the ARMA, manufacturing companies account for more than 57,000 jobs in Central Texas, and the industry accounts for 10.3% of the region’s gross domestic product. Rhodes said there are significant challenges for the industry that ACC can help address.

“One of the problems we have in Central Texas, for small startups, those who want to get into the business—there’s not a good training space for that to happen,” Rhodes said.

The incubator will include two spaces: the Innovative Manufacturing Prototype Acceleration Central Texas—or IMPACT—lab, which will provide facilities for manufacturing companies to develop prototypes and products; and the manufacturing academy, which will offer high school students a chance to complete dual-credit courses that will lead to a certificate and will help them prepare for a career in manufacturing.

Mitch Jacobson is the executive director of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Austin, which partnered with ACC in establishing both the manufacturing and the biosciences spaces.

Jacobson said small companies in their early stages need a space to build and design their products in order to get them out to the market. The advent of 3D printers made it much easier for companies to make products, Jacobson said, but entrepreneurs still need access to technology and spaces to manufacture.

“The more we can have these kinds of spaces training special young people—it opens up a whole new aspect of industries they potentially couldn’t have gotten involved with before a center like this was built," he said. "It creates opportunity.”

Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect the correct name of the Innovative Manufacturing Prototype Acceleration Central Texas—or IMPACT—lab.
By Jack Flagler
Jack is the editor of Community Impact Newspaper's Central Austin and Southwest Austin editions. He began his career as a sports reporter in Massachusetts and North Carolina before moving to Austin in 2018. He grew up in Maine and graduated from Boston University, but prefers tacos al pastor to lobster rolls. You can get in touch at


electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. 

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Texas doctor discusses first 3 months of vaccine distribution process

Texas is in its 12th week of statewide vaccine distribution, and an expansion of eligibility for vaccination could come later this spring.

Snow covers crops at Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin. (Courtesy Johnson’s Backyard Garden)
Central Texas farmers are reeling after the winter freeze wiped out their crops. Here is how you can help

"Even though farmers prepared, I think people didn't anticipate how much damage would come," said Leigh'Ann Andrews of Billie and Jean's Farm in Kyle.

For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

Winter Storm Uri caused restaurants across Austin to close due to power outages and unsafe road conditions. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Energy GM Jacqueline Sargent resigns from ERCOT's board of directors in wake of winter storms

Sargent's departure follows a trend of resignations from the agency that oversees Texas' power system.

Central Texas Food Bank
Central Texas Food Bank announces distribution sites in March following winter storm

The Central Texas Food Bank is holding food distribution events throughout March for local residents experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering effects from damage caused by Winter Storm Uri.

Courtney Manuel (center), I Live Here I Give Here executive director, and and board chair Kathy Smith-Willman (right) stand with Edward B. Burger, St. David's Foundation executive director, during Amplify Austin Day 2020. (Courtesy Trent Lee Photography)
Here's how to support Central Texas nonprofits during ninth annual Amplify Austin Day on March 4-5

The annual 24-hour giving campaign will begin at 6 p.m. on March 4.

People wait in line to receive a vaccine at an Austin Public Health vaccination site. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas offers COVID-19 vaccinations to school, child care workers

Educators, school staff and child care professionals are qualified to receive coronavirus vaccines effective immediately.

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that Texas' statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, the Texas Education Agency released updated public health guidance March 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Updated Texas Education Agency guidance allows individual school boards to determine mask policies

"Under this updated guidance, a public school system's current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy," the release reads.

H-E-B will continue to require employees to wear face masks until further notice. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require employees, ask customers to be masked despite upcoming expiration of governor's mandate

H-E-B officials announced their employees and vendors would still be required to be masked while on the job, and customers would be encouraged to wear masks while in stores.