Franza: Predictions, resolutions for 2018

In my short time as a regular contributor to The Augusta Chronicle, I have quickly mastered the ability to provide the clichéd article during the holidays.

 

In my Thanksgiving weekend article, I presented the things in the Augusta business community, at Augusta University, and personally for which I was thankful. On Christmas Eve, I gave you the Augusta business version of A Visit from St. Nicholas.

So, to keep this pattern intact, today I present you my 2018 New Year’s predictions and resolutions for Augusta business, Augusta University and me.

Predictions

As most readers of this space know, I am as optimistic about the Augusta economy as just about anyone. But my prediction for the coming year is that the Augusta economy will not be one of consistent linear increase. Actually, 2018 will be a year in which there may be two steps forward and one step back as the area prepares itself for continuing cyber growth.

Cal Wray will be extremely successful as the new executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. His past success in the Clarksville, Tenn., area, his emphasis on regionalism, and his strategic planning focus all portend future success for our region.

The new home of the Augusta GreenJackets, SRP Park, and it surrounding multiuse “work, live and play” development around it will be an economic home run and a model for minor league baseball parks around the country.

By the time Phase II of the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training is completed by the end of 2018, Augusta will be positioned to the country’s nexus for cyber security.

Buoyed by the business-friendliness of the state and the local area’s low-cost, excellent location, and access to transportation, the manufacturing base of the Augusta area will continue to expand.

Augusta University will continue on its trajectory of growing enrollments and continue to attract more students from outside of the region. While health care and cybersecurity will be the pillars of growth, the Hull College of Business will contribute through its focus on workforce needs of the area and the state.

As dean of the Hull College of Business, I predict that the business community’s involvement in our programs and classes will clearly make us the “Business School for Business.”

Resolutions

While I am a steadfast capitalist who believes that competition makes us all better in almost every arena, the pendulum possibly has swung so far toward competition that our society lacks the collaboration necessary to make us even better. So I resolve that there are numerous domains where collaboration, in conjunction with competition, will lead to greater success:

Regionalism: We need to work together in the region and in the state to make things better. Rather than fighting over and chasing the same things, let’s use our resources most efficiently to bring and grow business to our region.

Incubators/accelerators: As Augusta is becoming a burgeoning area for startups, we are seeing more incubator and accelerator environments being established. Given the limited depth of entrepreneurs and mentors in the area, it is important to maintain a critical mass of that depth. These environments need to work together to best use these limited resources.

Private/public partnerships: While Georgia has provided a business-friendly environment, Augusta can take it one step further. Resolving to do more explicit private company/governmental partnerships will allow the area to flourish. For instance, the incubator/accelerator environment is ripe for such partnerships.

The University System of Georgia: While the USG has done a great job of consolidating institutions to reduce some redundancy, there has been less emphasis on collaboration across the remaining institutions. When these institutions compete against one another, often it leads to institutions competing for scarce resources such as great faculty — therefore, they drive up the cost of those resources. More of a portfolio approach would make for better stewardship of our education dollars.

For the Augusta economy to continue to grow and flourish, additional investment in workforce development is required. More companies will move to the area if a prepared workforce is available. Augusta and area businesses must resolve to be committed to the support of education in the area, particularly in K-12 and technical college education, in addition to higher education.

Augusta University and the Hull College of Business resolve to live up to its strategic plan of “Beyond Boundaries” by going beyond its traditional boundaries and partnering with businesses, government and across the various colleges of the university.

My primary personal resolution is to be a “connector” who can help make many of the collaborations I am espousing above a reality.

Finally, I also resolve to make this space a worthwhile read for all of those interested in Augusta business.

The writer is dean of Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business. Reach him at rfranza@augusta.edu.

 

More