The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS), a program of the Magnolia Business Alliance, nurtures and supports the growth of the geospatial technology small and medium enterprise cluster. EIGS coordinates the interaction among the high-tech geospatial companies, university research programs, state agencies, and other related organizations in order to grow the geospatial businesses in our regional cluster into a world-class industry group. EIGS provides specific business services to existing companies, recruits complementary businesses and talent to the state, facilitates research opportunities, and supports activities to ensure that an educated, well-trained workforce is available to address the growing development needs of this industry.
View an overview of the “Innovative Economies” initiative award to the Magnolia Business Alliance and Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions from the U.S. Small Business Administration (PDF).
The US Department of Labor targeted 14 industries starting in 2004 for the Presidential High Growth Jobs Initiative to take advantage of high business growth in vital sectors of the American economy. Among these targets is the Geospatial Industry selected for its potential to add substantial numbers of new jobs transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skill sets for workers. Geospatial technology is the combination of GPS (global positioning systems), GIS (geographical information systems), and satellite or aerial image-based remote sensing all related to features on the surface of the earth for decision making.
The success of the booming geospatial industry in the United States includes one of the most successful state business initiatives in Mississippi history. In partnership with NASA, Mississippi chartered what is now called the Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) industry cluster in 1998. This cluster organized complimentary geospatial businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions in Mississippi to help to create a trained workforce, transfer geospatial technology from public institutions into the market, and foster new business growth.
Craig Harvey of the Magnolia Business Alliance signs transfer of the EIGS cluster to MBA as Scott Dow (MBA), Grey Swoope, director of the Mississippi Development Authority, Tim Brogdon (MBA) and Dr. Alice Clark, Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Mississippi look on.
The founders designed this cluster to first serve the Stennis Space Center with a vision to grow into the “Silicon Valley” of geospatial technology taking advantage of the low-cost of living in Mississippi and the high education level along the Interstate 10 “Aerospace Corridor” spanning much of the Gulf Coast.
The unprecedented EIGS partnership between the State and NASA became known in the nationwide geospatial community as the “Mississippi Model”. This initiative to develop a specialized, high technology industry represented a sharp departure from the traditional small business initiatives in Mississippi centered on agriculture, seafood, and manufactured commodities.
In 2010 the State and Cluster stakeholders declared the EIGS fully mature and capable of self-support. The State transitioned EIGS as a project to an existing host organization within Mississippi. The Mississippi Development Authority chose the Magnolia Business Alliance (MBA), a non-profit, industry-independent organization formed by Cluster members with a passion to enhance the small business ecosystem in the region. EIGS will continue to thrive as a program under MBA under the direction of energetic, successful, small business executives with welcome guidance and support from public institutions.
MBA assembled a diverse but integrated team for the SBA Regional Innovation Clusters opportunity. This team is integrated through more than a decade of working together directly and indirectly towards common goals which will continue to include channeling small business services and resources within the context of EIGS. This team is diverse both in the range and depth of business expertise united under this effort as well as the cultural variety inherent to small business in this region and the agencies supporting them.
Mississippi and its neighboring states, Louisiana and Alabama, possess enormous potential for economic prosperity fueled by determination and resiliency. However this region continues to suffer from the combined impact of Hurricane Katrina, the economic recession, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster. MBA is committed to the continued success of EIGS. The direct investment of the US Small Business Administration “Innovative Economies” initiative serves as a catalyst for EIGS services leading to new partnerships and growth within this industry. The EIGS Cluster has a proven track record of multiplying state investment through partnerships and in-kind contributions and will continue in the future.