09 Mar Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Kicks Off Renovations
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams and the former Minority Business Development Agency’s National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo joined the family of Herman J. Russell in mid-January to announce a new partnership and discuss renovations for the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE). The 40,000-square-foot facility, located in the same building as the former headquarters of H.J. Russell & Company at 504 Fair Street on Atlanta’s west side, will provide space to more than 100 emerging entrepreneurial companies. The Russell family, local business leaders and elected officials and representatives, joined Commerce Department officials for the announcement.
In November 2016, RCIE received $3 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund the design and renovation of the existing building to house the center. According to grantee estimates, the center will help create 50 new jobs and save 175 jobs. Once completed, the newly designed and renovated space will support long-term disaster recovery efforts by adding economic resiliency to the city of Atlanta through increased economic diversification.
“With the help of the $3 million matching grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, we are one step closer to being able to create a unique entrepreneur ecosystem that works in synergy with the diversity of Atlanta,” said Donata Russell Ross, founder, board member, RCIE.
RCIE was founded by the family of the late Herman J. Russell, an Atlanta entrepreneur and philanthropist, to honor his legacy. The center will serve as a collaborative, co-working ecosystem connecting Atlanta’s top entrepreneurs from communities of color and other underrepresented communities to business resources, access to capital and corporate partners. RCIE is also located near several of Atlanta’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“We envision the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship becoming a supportive community – one that will serve as a visible and inclusive avenue for all individuals to receive the mentoring, investment, and inspiration they need to launch a thriving business,” said H. Jerome Russell, RCIE Founder and Board Member. “We want to eliminate barriers to all, from college students with a brilliant business idea to the retired person launching their next passion in life. We believe RCIE will equalize the playing field in Atlanta and beyond by helping minority entrepreneurs in particular, overcome barriers to entering the marketplace.”
For more information about RCIE, click here. To view broadcast news coverage from the partnership announcement, click here for Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Atlanta BIZ show and to get a peek inside, and click here for a segment from The Georgia Gang.
Pictured in above photo (l-r): Georgia Representative Able Mable Thomas; Michael Russell, CEO, H.J. Russell & Co.; Dr. Eloise Klementich, CEcD, President and CEO, Invest Atlanta; Jay Williams, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development; Alejandra Y. Castillo, former National Director, Minority Business Development Agency; Donata Russell, Founder, RCIE, RCIE Board Member & Chief Executive Officer Concessions International; H. Jerome Russell, Founder, RCIE, RCIE Board Member & President, H.J. Russell & Co.; City Councilmember Cleta Winslow; and City Councilmember Ivory Young. (Photo by Terrence Carter)