“Our mission is to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration in mid-size and rural communities...to support inclusive entrepreneurship and technology development. We are here to help local economies thrive.”
Innovation ecosystems thrive when people convene to explore what’s possible. An architect by training, Eric Parker built a clubhouse like none you’ve ever imagined – a space that brings together people, cities and companies to fuel learning, big ideas and collaboration.
Parker is the founder and president of theClubhou.se, a coworking space, a code school, a startup accelerator and a prototyping lab. Located in the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, the center’s team has helped grow 100 companies, created 1,000 jobs, and trained 2,000 students. theClubhou.se facilitates mentor networking events, Founder’s Circle exchanges with CEOs nationwide, and hackathons that solve real community problems like inner city internet access and public health crises. “Our mission is to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration in mid-size and rural communities through educational and community programs to support inclusive entrepreneurship and technology development. We are here to help local economies thrive.”
Training tomorrow’s technology workforce is a primary focus of theClubhou.se. The Code Bootcamp, developed in partnership the Technical College System of Georgia, WorkSource Georgia and many industry partners, has proven to be an effective model for rapidly training workers to meet the talent needs of growing rural and mid-size cities.
Digital workforce readiness and well-defined technology career pathways are essential to Georgia’s competitive edge. “People drive innovation forward. We need to embrace Computer Science in K-12 and postsecondary education…and use education technology to learn HOW to teach the next generation,” Parker says.
Parker and his 12-person team are passionate about equitable innovation. theClubhou.se, with support from the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation, the Georgia Power Foundation, SouthState Bank and the Wells Fargo Foundation, is launching a five-city mesh network (makestartups.com) to expand entrepreneurship training, access to startup capital, and financial support for Entrepreneur Support Organizations in Georgia. The team will work with commercial capital providers and financial service providers to ensure that entrepreneurs have access to research-backed, high quality training programs to build in-demand skills. In addition to Augusta, programs are set to launch in Savannah, Macon, Columbus and Atlanta.
Parker also was successful in getting theClubhou.se’ Certificate of Entrepreneurship classified as an industry recognized credential. “Our industry recognized credentialing process makes it easier for entrepreneurs/startups in communities to access funding and resources to support them as they create jobs for themselves and others,” Parker explains.
Parker says Georgia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is a goldmine of energy. He thinks the State is already a technology and innovation hub. “We just need more swagger,” he adds. “Georgia has an intense hunger to take innovation to the next level – and with more collaboration, that is achievable. If any grow, we all grow.”