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.


MOST RECENT

Council members and housing advocates held a press conference on the state of Austin's housing supply and affordability Nov. 30. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Council lays out priorities for addressing Austin's housing affordability, availability crunch

Officials are likely to vote on a series of policy updates aimed at affordability and housing supply over the coming months.

One group focused on safety during the Long-range Planning Committee's Nov. 30 meeting. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD committee hears parents' concerns, discusses understaffing

Parents' concerns about unappealing food, security and other topics took center stage during the Nov. 30 meeting.

The city will negotiate its contracts will all three emergency services in the coming months. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
City kicks off negations with Austin EMS Association

The city will negotiate its contracts will all three emergency services in the coming months

The World Health Organization listed the omicron variant as a “variant of concern” on Nov. 26. The variant was first reported in South Africa. (Courtesy Travis County)
Austin Public Health eyes movement of omicron variant, but has yet to detect a case

The Austin-Travis County area will also remain in Stage 3 because of moderate community transmission rates and rising cases nationwide.

Crust Pizza Co. is opening soon in Montgomery and Willis. (Courtesy Crust Pizza Co.)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: 5 businesses coming to McKinney; Crust Pizza Co. to open two locations in Montgomery, Willis and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 30.

Chelsea Schizas and her husband, Demitri Schizas, opened the doors to Little Lauretta's Powder Room on Sept. 15. (Courtesy Chelsea Schizas)
Dripping Springs salon embraces nostalgia

The new salon named for its owner's mother focuses on continued education for employees.

Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzalez answered commissioners' and board members' questions at a Nov. 29 meeting. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
South Austin public engagement threatened by land use commissions moving meeting place, commissioners say

Land use commissions are being asked to move meetings from City Hall to a new space in North Austin, but they say the move raises safety issues.

I Live Here I Give Here encourages individuals to donate to nonprofit organizations in their community. (Courtesy I Live Here I Give Here)
I Live Here I Give Here encourages Austinites to donate to local organizations Nov. 30

The nonprofit is encouraging the community to donate for Giving Tuesday on Nov. 30.

The median home price in the Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto area has risen considerably since last October. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Home sales, costs in Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto remain hotter than Greater Austin; Halal Guys opens in Pearland and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 29.

The Austin Trail of Lights will open nighly from Nov. 28 through Dec. 31. (Courtesy Trail of Lights Foundation)
PHOTOS: Austin Trail of Lights returns to Zilker Park this week

The traditional holiday light show is open from Nov. 28 through New Year's Eve.

Commissioners on Nov. 22 voted to approve a density change to preliminary plans for The Preserve, a neighborhood that city documents said could include 565 single-family homes at the northeast corner of Teel and Panther Creek Parkways. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Neighborhood near PGA Frisco could see larger lots; ERCOT says Texas power grid ready for expected winter demand and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 24.

The utility's board of directors will vote on the proposed changes at December's meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
PEC members ask board to not raise solar rates

The utility's board of directors will vote on the proposed changes at December's meeting.