Media Coverage

Georgia’s Future Workforce: Rowen’s Higher Education Partners Weigh In

Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle


April 2023 — Georgia’s thriving economy is a testament to the state’s steadfast commitment to driving economic growth. As the “Best State to Do Business” in the country, Georgia’s leaders and businesses are continually seeking new opportunities to collaborate and innovate.

Rowen, a 2,000-acre knowledge community located in Gwinnett County, has set out on a mission to bring together companies and higher education institutions to drive experiential learning, research and innovation. At full buildout, Rowen is estimated to create 80,000 jobs across various industries, including energy, agriculture, technology, pharmaceuticals, robotics, life sciences and AI.

“We are positioning Rowen as a landing site for visionary leaders looking to champion bold thinking, propel new ideas and form partnerships, ultimately driving economic growth in Georgia,” explained Mason Ailstock, president of the Rowen Foundation. “Instead of constructing heavy manufacturing or logistics facilities, Rowen’s tenants must include on-site activities which drive innovation.”

With the capacity to ultimately develop over 22 million square feet of headquarters, R&D, lab and office space alongside retail and multifamily residential, Rowen will create a resilient job center with a direct connection to Georgia graduates. Sites can be customized to meet the needs of specific companies, ranging from individual multi-tenant buildings and single-occupancy campuses to mixed-use districts.

As part of its commitment to cultivating partnerships, Rowen’s board members include leaders from five Georgia universities, including Emory University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Spelman College and the University of Georgia. These leaders recently weighed in on why they decided to partner with Rowen and its anticipated long-term impact on their respected institutions.

Rowen’s 2,000 acres offers locations where companies can nestle offices, labs and research facilities into acres of wooded landscape, providing a campus feeling customized to the partner’s needs. These areas provide the option of ensuring privacy and security while offering inspiration and connectivity to all that Rowen has to offer.

“We are excited to leverage our expertise and resources to advance research and discovery through Rowen,” said Deborah Bruner, Ph.D., senior vice president for Research at Emory University and Rowen board member. “Georgia’s universities create an excellent pipeline of skilled workers who are well placed to support Georgia’s ongoing economic growth and future Rowen jobs.”

“Rowen’s close proximity to unique and diverse talent pools in Gwinnett County, Atlanta and Athens creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity for recent graduates and employers alike,” said Jann Joseph, Ph.D., president of Georgia Gwinnett College and Rowen board member. “There are over 75,000 graduates from top institutions in the area each year, and I am optimistic Rowen will open the doors to the future for many of them.”

“Georgia’s research institutions are fundamental to our educated workforce,” said S. Jack Hu, Ph.D., University of Georgia provost and Rowen board member. “Rowen’s partnerships with Georgia’s universities will help propel research in these critical industries, creating new job opportunities for our graduates, thus facilitating economic opportunities across the state.”

Diversity within these partnerships is also vital to fostering creativity, pushing boundaries and developing new solutions and technological advancements. With a minimum contracting goal of 30% for small, minority and women-owned business enterprise (SMWBE) participation throughout the project’s development, Rowen is leading through action and opening accessible economic opportunities for Georgians.

“Spelman is the nation’s No. 1 producer of Black female students who go on to get Ph.D.s in STEM fields,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, president of Spelman College and Rowen board member. “Our graduates want to work for companies that are creating the future and investing in our communities. Rowen can provide a valuable pathway for our students to connect and excel.”

“As companies seek to expand their influence across the state and beyond, Rowen provides many diverse opportunities for research and connection so everyone can thrive,” said Bert Reeves, vice president for institute relations of Georgia Institute of Technology and Rowen board member. “Building on our tremendous growth in Tech Square and now Science Square, Georgia Tech is excited to partner with Rowen on another transformative project for our state.”

Rowen is well positioned to play a critical role in Georgia’s continued economic success, thanks to its easy access to diverse talent pools and a pipeline of skilled workers from the state’s research and education institutions. These institutions will continue providing the workforce that global corporations seek as they expand, thus attracting more corporations that value collaboration and convergence. As Rowen recruits companies and business leaders making Georgia their new home, the knowledge community will continue to serve as a key convener for global partnerships that will generate economic prosperity in Georgia, the nation and, with time, the world.

Encompassing 2,000 carefully preserved acres along Highway 316 in Gwinnett County, Georgia, Rowen is a visionary knowledge community that will bring together entrepreneurs, researchers and innovators. Rowen’s multi-use concept will build on the land’s rich history of thoughtful environmental stewardship, while driving innovation across agriculture, medicine and the environment.