ACC hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 14, to celebrate the grand opening of the ACC Innovative Manufacturing Partnerships Accelerating Central Texas (IMPACT) Lab, the college’s third business incubator.
The 5,000-square-foot facility — located at ACC Highland — is Austin’s first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing. The lab supports digital-ready small and midsize manufacturers and provides the space and resources companies may need to develop and iterate physical prototypes. For students, the lab provides real-world learning experiences.
“This is an important milestone for not just ACC but Central Texas. It’s no secret that the manufacturing sector in our region has grown. And maybe that’s an understatement. About a third of major employers in Central Texas for manufacturers, but making it manufacturing hasn’t been easy. Our community didn’t have the types of specialized facilities startup companies need to grow. We also didn’t have the types of advanced learning environments that students need to learn the important skills necessary to gain hands-on experience,” says ACC’s Chancellor, Dr. Richard Rhodes. “The IMPACT Lab at Austin Community College changes that — we’re building pathways for startup companies and students to grow, learn, create and lead the future.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony included remarks from Chancellor Dr. Rhodes; ACC Board Secretary Sean Hassan; elected guests U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Sheryl Cole, and Austin City Council Member Jose “Chito” Vela; and ACC Manufacturing student Hannah Edmiston.
“The federal investment here is important,” says Congressman Doggest. “I have to say that through the years, a lot of federal money has been wasted on job training and retraining programs that didn’t match up people with the real needs of the private sector. And the fact that you have a private Advisory Committee and there’s such a great relationship between ACC and local manufacturers is critical to ensuring that the people that come out of these programs are ready to go right out to a job here in Central Texas.”
The IMPACT Lab was funded in large part through a federal grant program. ACC was the only awardee in Texas to receive funding from the National Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies. Support also came from local matching dollars from ATI, Autodesk, City of Austin, and Amazon Web Services.
“[This facility] is a manifestation of a vision, hope, and wish of a thriving manufacturing community here in Central Texas. You know, we came in four years ago and met with Dr. Rhodes and his team and asked for something like this,” says Ed Latson, Austin Regional Manufacturers Association director. “When we had this discussion a while back, I talked about how ACC changes lives. And, particularly in manufacturing, we’re giving people a pathway to an affordable income, and in a region that’s increasingly becoming unaffordable. The average wage in manufacturing is $90,000 a year. The average wage in semiconductors is $170,000 a year. These are jobs that will make a difference, and this facility is where it will happen.”
Currently, The IMPACT Lab is home to two companies — Zpryme and Tubular.
The event also included tours of the facility, an information session for local manufacturing startups, and a career exploration event for students to connect with local employers and learn about manufacturing training programs at ACC.
To learn more about ACC’s Manufacturing Program, visit austincc.edu/manufacturing.
To learn more about the IMPACT Lab, visit austincc.edu/impactlab.
View photos from the event below.