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Biz bits: Emory unveils health sciences research building, Trees Atlanta appoints executive director

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Biz bits: Emory unveils health sciences research building, Trees Atlanta appoints executive director

Emory University held a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 16 to unveil its new health sciences research building on Haygood Drive Northeast. Photo courtesy of Emory University.

Atlanta, GA — Here’s a look at business news in our community.

– Emory University has unveiled Georgia’s largest health sciences research building.

Emory University unveiled the new facility on March 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The university broke ground on the building in 2019 to further propel its medical research by creating a cutting-edge space that encourages collaboration among researchers working to solve the most complex human health problems, according to a press release.

The building is located at 1750 Haygood Drive NE near the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston campus.

The research building is eight stories with 350,000 square feet. It will house over 1,000 researchers, including 130 principal investigators, from various specialties including pediatrics, biomedical engineering, Winship Cancer Institute, cardiovascular medicine, the Emory Vaccine Center, radiology, and brain health.

“This magnificent facility will play a powerful role in fulfilling Emory’s mission to create, preserve, teach, and discover,” said Dr. Ravi I. Thadhani, Emory’s executive vice president for health affairs, during the ceremony. “This building will facilitate breakthroughs and discoveries across the health sciences that will transform patient care and serve as a training ground for the next generation of clinicians and researchers.”

The $313 million project was funded largely through a $200 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation as part of a total $400 million gift to Emory University in 2018 – the largest gift in the university’s history.

Construction of the facility began in March 2020 and included 6.8 million pounds of structural steel, 1.1 million pounds of Portuguese marble, and 31,315 cubic yards of concrete. The building’s design features a natural-light filled central atrium with a living five-story green wall, a café, large digital experiential collaboration screens, innovation spaces, formal and informal meeting spaces meant to promote collaboration. Core facilities include advanced imaging (7-T MRI), flow cytometry, high-level containment facilities, an automated biorepository and genomics.

“This is an extraordinary facility and is a commitment to our belief in people and to the mission of Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences. It represents the linkage and integration of core mission, scientific discovery and innovation to the enhancement of patient care,” said Dr. David Stephens, vice president for research for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. “You want to come walk through this building and be in this building, you don’t want to just ride the elevator. It will attract and retain exceptional scientists and learners … but more importantly, lessen the disease burden and keep people healthy.”

– Trees Atlanta has appointed a new executive director and the organization has opened Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse. 

Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse has opened and is designed to engage the community and better support the organization’s program operations. Photo courtesy of Trees Atlanta.

Here is the full press release:

Atlanta, GA – March 24, 2023 – Greg Levine is appointed Trees Atlanta’s Executive Director effective April 1, 2023. This is only the third change in executive leadership in the organization’s 38-year history. Levine began his tenure at Trees Atlanta in 1995 when there were only four employees. After the organization’s first Executive Director, Marcia Bansley, retired in 2011, Greg Levine and Connie Veates created an innovative dual-leadership structure and worked together as Co-Executive Directors for twelve years. They launched a period of extraordinary growth for the organization, including the successful funding and construction of Trees Atlanta’s new headquarters in southwest Atlanta. Veates will step away from her role as Co-Executive Director at the end of the month.

The Co-Executive Directors will host their final joint duty when they lead the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse, located at 825 Warner Street SW, Atlanta. The 23,000 square foot facility is designed to engage surrounding communities and better support its large program operations that serves communities across metro Atlanta.

Trees Atlanta is hosting a series of community events at the Kendeda TreeHouse to open its doors to the public, including a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Andre Dickens, funders, and partners on Thursday, March 30, 2023 and a Community Open House on Saturday, April 22.

Taylor Baird, President of the Board for Trees Atlanta noted, “Greg and Connie have produced transformative growth for the organization: solidifying the Trees Atlanta brand, the development of the Kendeda TreeHouse, mentoring of countless staff, building and strengthening successful partnerships locally and nationally, and diversifying funding sources for long term stability for planting, conservation, and education efforts.”

Connie Veates’ tenure with Trees Atlanta spans 22 years – ten years serving on the Board of Directors of Trees Atlanta and 12 years as Co-Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. Veates significantly grew development among individual, corporate, and foundation giving. She also founded the Root Ball, their largest annual fundraising event, scheduled on Thursday, May 4 this year. Levine expressed deep appreciation for his colleague, “Connie has been a fantastic partner. She is a strategic, decisive, collaborative, and a growth-minded leader. I am very excited for her, as she will be using her talents as a consultant to help other nonprofits.”

The organization is now larger than it has ever been, serves 14 cities in metro Atlanta, and is pressed to address urgent environmental issues. Baird expressed confidence for more milestones ahead, “Greg has been a trusted leader of our organization. He consistently advocates for the preservation and growth of the urban canopy and has advanced community forestry for nearly three decades. The Board is excited for his continued leadership and for the future.”

In the nearly three decades since Greg joined Trees Atlanta, he has been hands-on in all facets of programming, as well as organizing partners, communities, and volunteers that support the mission of Trees Atlanta. Greg oversaw neighborhood and city plantings, forest restoration, advocacy, and the urban forestry teams that currently work in 14 municipalities in metro Atlanta. At the table in the early visionary years when Ryan Gravel and others were dreaming up the concept of the Atlanta BeltLine, Greg urged early advocates to make greenspace and nature an important element of the project. Trees Atlanta forged a strong partnership with the Atlanta BeltLine that resulted in the establishment and development of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. The Co-Executive Directors have expanded Trees Atlanta’s education programs, including Summer Camp, Youth Tree Team, in school programs, Speaker Series, workshops, and various Certified Volunteer programs.

Trees Atlanta has planted over 160,000 trees and adds up to 7,000 new trees each year, including the creation of the Flowering Forest, a 1.5-mile tree tribute to John Lewis, a project that will likely become another canopy landmark in the City of Atlanta in the years to come. Trees Atlanta is also collaborating with Central Atlanta Progress and the City of Atlanta to plant 8000 new trees in Downtown Atlanta to help mitigate rising urban heat island effect and amplify Atlanta’s global reputation as the “City in the Forest.”

The Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse has various indoor and outdoor classrooms for adult and youth education programs, including a popular summer camp for outdoor fun and learning. An implementation building will allow more equipment to be housed as the organization’s scope and reach of work expands. The larger program and administrative structure stands at the corner of Warner Street and Allene Avenue. Trees Atlanta has opened a portion of the office space to be shared by three other conservation organizations. It sits on three acres of land situated between Oakland City and Adair Park neighborhoods and is connected to the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail. The campus boasts 1.5 acres of landscaped spaces that includes 100% native plants, over 200 newly planted trees, and stormwater management features designed to capture rainwater in cisterns or detain water on its property.

– United States Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-5) announced the Stitch was awarded one of the first reconnecting communities pilot program grants. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Stitch $1.1 million, and this is the second-largest federal investment in the Stitch. Williams previously secured a $1.16 million community project funding grant for the project, according to a press release.

“The Stitch is a transformational civic infrastructure investment needed to reconnect Downtown and Midtown Atlanta,” according to the project website. “Once implemented, the Stitch will create approximately 14 acres of urban greenspace and transportation enhancements atop a new, 3⁄4-mile platform spanning the Downtown Connector between Ted Turner Drive and Piedmont Avenue.”

The Stitch is a project from the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) and Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) to cap the Downtown Connector from Piedmont Avenue to the Civic Center MARTA Station.

“I authored the legislation for the Reconnecting Communities Program because infrastructure should strengthen communities–not divide them,” Williams said. “The Downtown Connector divided the Black neighborhoods of Buttermilk Bottoms, Bedford Pines, and Sweet Auburn through the 1956 Federal Highway Act. The Stitch will take steps to reconnect parts of our communities that have been divided for far too long. I am grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration for awarding the Stitch one of the country’s first Reconnecting Pilot Programs grants.”

A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, thanked Williams for the grant.

“This $1.1 million in funding will be combined with other funds dedicated by ADID, Invest Atlanta, and the USDOT to advance the engineering of this transformational project,” Robinson said. “We look forward to working with our partners at the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Georgia Department of Transportation to begin community outreach, planning, and design of the Stitch this spring.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens added that there are “historic wrongs that are being righted” through projects such as the Stitch to connect neighborhoods and build community.

– Delta Community has announced five scholarship recipients and distributes $25,000 in awards.

Here is the full press release:

ATLANTA (April 5, 2023) – Delta Community Credit Union, Georgia’s largest credit union with more than $9 billion in assets, today announced its 2023 Scholarship Award Recipients. Based on their academic achievement, community involvement and an essay submission, five students were selected to receive $25,000 in total awards.

The following students were awarded $5,000 each to assist with education related expenses:

— Giovanni Beltran, a senior at Randall K. Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky, who plans to attend the University of Alabama to major in Architecture.

— Ava Flanigan, a senior at Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro, Georgia, who plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta to double major in Chemistry and Engineering.

— Joshua Hood, a freshman at Morehouse College in Atlanta, working towards a dual degree in Engineering with a focus on Computer and Electrical.

— Addison Orr, a senior at Villa Rica High School in Villa Rica, Georgia, who plans to attend Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia, to major in Education.

— Emily Wagner, a senior at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Georgia, who plans to attend Auburn University to major in architecture.

“There are so many intelligent, determined and civic-minded students in the communities we serve, but these young adults really stood out among the applicants,” Delta Community’s CEO Hank Halter said. “We are thrilled to support well-deserving students in their pursuit of higher education and can’t wait to see them develop into the next generation of leaders.”

In addition to its annual scholarship program, Delta Community offers quarterly scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges or Universities and offers free classes and workshops through its award-winning Financial Education Center.

– MJQ Concourse has relocated to the Dante’s Down the Hatch venue at Underground Atlanta. 

Here is the full press release:

ATLANTA (Mar. 1, 2023) – Underground Atlanta’s momentum as the nightlife capital of Atlanta once again is quickly growing. MJQ Concourse’s relocation from its longtime Ponce De Leon outpost to the historic Dante’s Down the Hatch venue at Underground Atlanta, proves just that. Located along the property’s Lower Alabama Street, the Atlanta-born nightclub aims to open by the ends of 2023 to early 2024.

“MJQ Concourse is one of a kind and trying to hold onto the essence is non- negotiable when it comes to find out next home. The history of the city is getting wiped away so it only makes sense that we escape deeper down into Atlanta’s history for safety. Ultimately, Underground Atlanta’s preservation of the city’s rich history and eclectic feel as well as the Lalani Ventures team allowing us to have a voice in their conceptual development of the property are what convinced us there was nowhere else,” said Ryan Purcell, co-owner at MJQ Concourse. “We are thrilled that after being open for 25 years we will be taking over such a notable space that has not seen life for 25 years. It’s almost serendipitous to find Dante’s, a space that is not only at Underground Atlanta, but literally under Underground Atlanta’s lowest level. It allows our club to provide the same legendary underground, gritty experience our visitors have come to love at our current location. Those that have come to MJQ over the years are what make it and losing it we will not allow. We want everyone to know that our goal is to keep the core values, music, vibe, and diversity here forever. It might even be a little dryer.”

MJQ prides itself on being a dance club for the people; having always opted against the traditional ‘VIP section’ seen at other nightclubs, the club desires to promote a sense of community and inclusivity. The next chapter of the nightclub will continue to prioritize accessibility for its guests while preserving the authenticity and diversity Atlantans have always valued in the space. The team will preserve the structure of the pirate ship in the former Dante’s space, while leaning into MJQ’s already retro futuristic influences, transforming the venue into an interstellar docking station to further lean into the “concourse” branding. Fans of the nightclub can expect adjusted bar hours at the new location with sci-fi and movie influenced cocktails and light eats.

“MJQ is an essential part of Atlanta’s nightlife history, similar to Underground Atlanta. For the past 25 years, MJQ has provided a safe and diverse space for Atlantans to come together and have fun,” said Mary Turner, director of leasing at Lalani Ventures. “We were very protective about who we chose to revive the former Dante’s space, and MJQ is the perfect fit. The nightclub is a staple in Atlanta, and they are committed to keeping the nostalgia of this iconic bar alive through reviving the speakeasy entrance and famous pirate ship.”

MJQ joins a growing list of new tenants signed by Lalani Ventures at Underground Atlanta, including Common Grounds Coffee Shop, an eclectic cafe with a community-minded atmosphere, Doblo’s Pizza Co, a classic pizza joint with a Caribbean twist, and Atlanta Comedy Theatre, Atlanta’s premier upscale comedy club venue. CEO of Lalani Ventures Shaneel Lalani said of the announcement, “Preserving the unique history of Atlanta while bringing new and exciting experiences to Downtown Atlanta is the heart of our mission. We are proud to be home to two of Atlanta’s most iconic venues – The Masquerade, a classic Atlanta live music festival venue, and now, MJQ. This is how we’re maintaining Atlanta’s remarkable entertainment culture.”

Dante’s Down The Hatch was founded in the 1970s by Dante Stephensen and held a nearly 30-year reign as Underground Atlanta’s centerpiece, its most-loved nightlife destination. Longtime residents of Atlanta can still recall nights at Dante’s, communing over fondue and watching Stephensen perform, while the impossible-to-forget pirate ship, real-life crocodiles and mementos from Dante’s travels transported them to another world. For most, Dante’s served as a time capsule to an era of this city, a point in time the new generation of Atlanta may never know. Dante Stephensen officially closed the door on Dante’s Down The Hatch at Underground Atlanta in 1999, and now MJQ will bring new life to the iconic Atlanta hotspot.

The quintessential late-night dance club first opened in the basement of the Ponce de Leon Hotel in 1994. As the city of Atlanta has evolved, MJQ has moved right along with it, serving as a beloved setting for people of all backgrounds to convene, dance and enjoy themselves and imagining Atlanta’s nightlife scene. MJQ, like Dante’s, is a reminder to its fans of the history of Atlanta. As fate would have it, Dante’s Down the Hatch will have its second coming at Underground Atlanta 25 years after its doors were closed when MJQ officially reopens their new location in 2024, commemorating the night club’s 25th year in business.

New concepts at Underground also include Fulton County’s Public Arts Future Lab, an innovative artist residency funded by Microsoft, MARTA Artbound (MARTA’s public art program), and Arts & Entertainment Atlanta; YELLE Beauty, a Black woman-owned and operated beauty concept by Yandy Smith-Harris; Dancing Crepes, a new dining concept also by Yandy Smith-Harris; and Daiquiriville, a 2,200 square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar with karaoke and other entertainment, owned and operated by Colombian-native Luisa Duran.

These new tenants join The Masquerade, the famed Atlanta music and events venue; Future Showbar and Restaurant, a 14,000-square-foot, two-story LGBTQ restaurant and bar; and iScream Ice Cream, an old time ice cream parlor with modern edge desserts.

– CultureWorx, Inc., has announced it has been acquired by the POWERS Company. 

Here is the full press release:

Atlanta, GA, February 10, 2023 — CultureWorx Inc., the industry’s first Culture Performance Management (CPM) solutions provider specializing in defining, implementing, and measuring leadership behavior and workplace culture, is excited to announce its recent acquisition by the POWERS company (www.thepowerscompany.com); the premier Management Operations improvement firm focused on enhancing leadership behaviors and decision making that ultimately impacts bottom-line business performance.

Dr. Donte Vaughn, CEO of CultureWorx, comments on the news, “This partnership represents a significant opportunity to leverage the synergies within both organizations, coupled with our combined subject matter expertise and resources to advance how we serve our client partners nationally and globally.”

The company’s decision to partner with POWERS is rooted in strong alignment in how both companies foster operational and cultural improvement within businesses. In addition, their shared mission to be the partner of choice for organizations seeking transformational behavior change by helping their teams ‘lead better together’ underscores the acquisition.

Sean Hart, CEO of POWERS, adds, “We are excited about the integration of CultureWorx into our business, as we anticipate growth and advancement in the areas of technological innovation, change management, and leadership development strategies for our network of clients.”

As part of this acquisition, POWERS will continue to apply the Culture Performance ManagementTM (CPM©) behavioral change methodology originated by CultureWorx.

This company acquisition will go into effect on March 1, 2023, with complete operational integration achieved by the close of the 2023 fiscal year. During this transition, the CultureWorx brand will remain active as the business continues to serve its current and prospective network of clients accordingly.

Dr. Donte Vaughn, current Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner of CultureWorx, will continue to serve as CEO. In addition, he will assume the role of Chief Culture Officer (CCO) for POWERS, emphasizing strategic guidance, thought leadership, technological innovations, and subject matter expertise in fostering leadership culture change and optimization.

 – United States Sen. Jon Ossoff is working to help students get film and television production jobs and boost Georgia’s economy. 

Here is the full press release:

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is working to help more Georgia students get film and television production jobs and boost the state’s economy.

Today, Sen. Ossoff launched an inquiry with the Department of Labor (DOL) to help expand film and media apprenticeship options for interested students in Georgia.

Building on the work of the Georgia Film Academy, Sen. Ossoff is urging DOL to create new opportunities for Georgians seeking employment in the industry, which generates billions of dollars of revenue in the state annually.

“Registered apprenticeships can provide job training and a pathway to careers for those interested in jobs in the film and media industry. However, the film and media industry has struggled to access apprenticeship resources,” Sen. Ossoff wrote to Labor Secretary Walsh. “I ask for your partnership in cutting red tape and modifying inflexible program guidance that hinder the development of high-quality apprenticeships in the industry.”

The Department of Labor currently requires apprenticeship providers to sponsor a trainee for a year or more of continuous work, limiting the number of eligible employment programs in Georgia’s film and media sector where production sets traditionally close within a few months.

In his latest push to support Georgia’s booming media workforce, Sen. Ossoff is calling on DOL to amend these unnecessary eligibility barriers and help the industry better develop its workforce through these important pathway programs.

“With the growing film and media industry, Georgia is poised to become the creative capital of our country. But we are currently constrained by the lack of skilled labor in our field, and often forced to import talent from other states to fill these jobs,”Christopher Moses, Director of Education/Associate Artistic Director at Alliance Theatre said.“A dedicated workforce development program for the creative economy will provide consistent work for thousands of Georgians and ensure the sustainability of this industry in our state.”

Click here to read Sen. Ossoff’s inquiry.

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