House bill

House Bill for STEM Jobs Funding Would Benefit Georgia

(TNS) – A U.S. senator from Georgia is leading a congressional committee tasked with ironing out the details of a funding bill that could create jobs and funds for research in central Georgia.

Sen. Raphael Warnock heads the conference committee, made up of senators and House members, which could present a resolved bill to Congress by the end of the month.

“It would be a huge win for Central Georgia,” Warnock told the Telegraph. “The future is STEM, and for people to take advantage of it, we need these innovative tech hubs and increased funding for universities.”

A “technology hub” is what the bill calls a city that serves as a center of advanced technology and commerce. This is Warnock’s overarching goal in supporting the legislation: to make Central Georgia a hotspot for STEM research and technology enhancement, creating jobs and boosting the local economy in the process.

The bill’s national goal is to turn cities across the United States into technology hubs, and Warner Robins is one of the top cities on the committee’s potential list.

“There was a study done by two MIT professors, and when they looked at the provisions of the bill and the cities that would likely benefit from it, Warner Robins was on the list,” Warnock said. “They only corroborate what we already know, that we have talent, expertise and intellectual curiosity in Georgia.”

Robins Air Force Base has drawn attention to the region with its STEM capabilities and job production. An investment to transform the region into a “technology hub” would mean money for research and business in addition to job creation.

“About 60% of the positions there are held by civilians, many of which require STEM expertise. This bill would provide the kind of future workforce training we need to create economic growth in the region. Warner Robins and Central Georgia,” Warnock said.

Savannah and Columbus were also on the list of potential hub cities. There are no exact numbers on how much money might come to Central Georgia or how many jobs might be created.

The bill would also increase STEM funding for universities nationwide and make it more affordable for smaller schools to purchase equipment and research. Middle Georgia State University would be a prime candidate for the extra funding in Georgia, a state where money is often funneled to larger public schools like Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

“If grants become more readily available, we will be able to purchase materials that we otherwise couldn’t and help students do meaningful research,” said Dawn Sherry, chair of the MGA’s Department of Natural Sciences. “Let’s say students are working on a project and then they have to send samples to a lab. If we have the equipment they need here, students can follow the process through and learn so much more.

Sherry said the funding would also give students a better experience before entering the workforce and create a better STEM culture in Macon. With better research facilities and capabilities, Macon could attract more STEM students and experts from across the country.

“We’re just a seed waiting for a little water,” Sherry said. “If you have this type of equipment, people don’t have to travel to another place to take advantage of these opportunities. If that happens, there will also be opportunities for collaboration between laboratories and industries.”

In addition to this Central Georgia-specific funding, the bill will also provide more than $40 billion to domestic chip and semiconductor manufacturing. Warnock cited the closure of a KIA manufacturing plant in Georgia as evidence of the state’s need for semiconductors.

Congress could pass the bill as early as August, a reconciled version of the US Innovation and Competition Act passed by the Senate in 2021 and the America COMPETES Act passed by the House this year. Members of the conference committee will vote on the revamped bill before it is again approved by the House and Senate.

©2022 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.