Ida Byrd-Hill Believes the Battle Creek Region Can Become a $160 Million National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Engine

BATTLE CREEK, Mich., May 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The West Michigan African American Tech Readiness Collaborative, led by Ida Byrd-Hill, CEO of Automation Workz, will celebrate regional unification with a Kickoff meeting at 7:30 a.m. on May 24 at 400 W. Michigan Ave. in Battle Creek. The event will feature a keynote speech by Allen Walker.

Allen Walker is a senior advisor in the U.S. National Science Foundation’s newly established Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). In this position, Walker focuses on potential partnerships through engagement with stakeholders across government, academia, industry, and nonprofits. He also advises directorate leadership on research and development strategy and policy. He acts as the TIP chief of staff supporting the assistant director.

Allen Walker will answer the question “Can the Battle Creek region become a NSF Innovation Engine?”

The Battle Creek region, known as Cereal City, is small with a population of 133,819. However, it has industrial might as it is the home of The Kellogg Company, The Airforce Cyber Unit, Foreign Trade Zone 43. It sits right in the middle of the Ann Arbor to Chicago Tech Corridor. This region is quietly leading the Titanium Economy, with companies and government agencies, like Denso, Duncan Aviation,­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ 3Eye Technologies, Air National Guard and Defense Logistics Agency.

“I believe a unified Battle Creek/ Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids/ Benton Harbor/Jackson region could become a major Industrial Tech Hub – a NSF Innovation Engine,” states Ida Byrd-Hill, CEO of Automation Workz, a top 10 ranked U.S. cybersecurity bootcamp, known for certification training that is leading low-income, women and people of color to high-paying tech careers.

“This West Michigan region is attracting also sorts of tech employer investments, like the Ford-CATL Battery plant, LG Energy Solutions expansion, Ultium Cells battery plant and the Gotion Semiconductor plant,” Byrd-Hill says. “As the CEO of a tech startup, I see the Michigan information technology cluster replicating the 22% growth it experienced over the past 10 years.”

“Sadly, the Michigan Information Technology Industry Cluster Workforce Analysis for 2022 highlights that African Americans comprised only 7.6% of this workforce, while they make up 14% of the general population,” Byrd-Hill continued. “I launched the West Michigan African American Tech Readiness Collaborative to ensure this region continues its tech job growth by ensuring everyone is involved in reskilling/upskilling for high-paying jobs within the broader tech markets, including battery/ electric vehicles, healthcare, manufacturing and semiconductors.”

The West Michigan African American Tech Readiness Collaborative includes these partners:

Alex Andrews, Talent First

Joshua Hilgart, Kalamazoo Defender

Dr. Alisha Davis, Grand Valley State University

Kara Beer, Battle Creek Chamber of Commerce

Alvin Hills, Midwest Tech Project

Dr. Kara Van Dam, Grand Valley State University

Brian DeRoo, Bronson Healthcare

Dr. Keli Christopher, STEM Greenhouse

Pastor Chris McCoy, New Level Sports Ministries

Kellie Hoffman, Northern Initiatives

Danielle Williams, Amplify GR

Dr. Matías Soto, Andrews University

Dr. Dennis Baskins, Kellogg Community College

Dr. Michael Horrigan, Upjohn Institute

Dr. Dennis Bona, EPIC

Michael McCullough, Calhoun County Broadband Taskforce

Erick Stewart, LAGNIAPPE Community

Pastor Monique French, Washington Heights UMC

Frances Hogsten, Haworth

Dr. Nakia S. Baylis, Village Network of Battle Creek

Gregory Moore, CMS Energy

Dr. Preston Hicks, Goodwill Industries

Heather Ignash, Battle Creek Unlimited

Rob Llanes, The Right Place

Heidi Groulx, Denso

Sarah Klerk, Kalamazoo Promise

Jakki Bungart-Bibbs, Michigan Works Southwest

Dr. Sharon Vriend-Robinette, Corewell Health

Joseph Matthews, Gentex

Dr. Tino Smith, Kingdom Builders

Come learn how the West Michigan African American Tech Readiness Collaborative lays the foundation for the $160 million NSF Regional Innovation Engine.

RSVP for the Kickoff meeting
Join the collaborative here

Media Contact:

Ida Byrd-Hill

SOURCE Automation Workz