Our Team

The Economic Development Lab draws on expertise from throughout the Enterprise Innovation Institute and Georgia Tech. Our team brings the talent and resources needed to boost economic growth and create jobs in communities in the U.S. and throughout the world.

David Bridges


Director, Economic Development Lab

David enjoys developing teams and partnerships who create economic development by advancing research and technology, policy and practice. His work includes

  • Leading collaborative projects at Georgia Tech and around the world
  • Forming innovation hubs at world-class universities
  • Developing innovative economic development models

Recent projects include:

  • Creating startup ecosystems on campuses around the world
  • Establishing entrepreneurship and education programs in Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Peru, France, Iraq, Pakistan, South Africa, China, Korea, and Japan

David sees economic development as a way to lead communities and organizations forward, using innovation policy, startup ecosystem formation, and entrepreneurship support programs.

Lynne Henkiellynne

Director, Innovation Ecosystems

Lynne enjoys working with communities who want to learn how to create and operate successful, sustainable business incubation programs. She speaks many languages: local government, academia, economic development, federal government, banking, industry and a little conversational legal.

Her work includes:

  • educating community stakeholders on business incubation options and how it can be used to strengthen their local economy
  • creating business incubation programs in towns large and small around the world
  • designing programs to support international companies who are looking to establish themselves in the U.S. market
  • Support entrepreneurship development in other universities utilizing technology innovations to increase startups

Recent projects include:

  • Working with a small community to assess their ability to build and sustain a business incubation program
  • Aiding a university system to develop a plan for entrepreneurial support and strategic growth through its many campuses
  • Spinning high tech startups out of NASA-developed technology
  • Delivering training programs in Pakistan and Korea in technology commercialization
  • Assessing a failing business incubator and recommending a turnaround plan

Lynne can help you think differently about incubators and how to grow your business community.

Alfie Meek, Ph.D.Alfie

Director, Center for Economic Development Research

Alfie helps communities implement, measure, and evaluate their economic development efforts. He spent 10 years as a Chief Economist and Economic Development Director for a large county in metro Atlanta, and he understands the realities faced by local economic development practitioners on a daily basis.

His work includes:

  • Fiscal impact modeling and analysis for both state and local governments
  • Local revenue modeling and forecasting
  • Incentive and tax policy development and analysis
  • Administration and development of the LOCI™ fiscal impact model

Recent projects include:

  • Fiscal impact analysis on various county governments of proposed new cities across Georgia
  • Economic and fiscal impacts of various tax credit tax credit programs (New Markets tax credit, Rural Jobs tax credits, Historic Rehabilitation tax credits, etc.) in several states
  • International best practices in foreign direct investment and exporting based on regional industry clusters

Alfie also travels nationally speaking to audiences about the importance of understanding the complete fiscal impact of development and incentives on local governments.

Jan Youtie, Ph.D.Jan

Director, Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy

Jan enjoys action-based research at the intersection of innovation policies and technology.

Her work includes:

  • Using Big Data, Medium Data and unstructured data to understand innovation and innovators
  • Evaluating regional innovation clusters and university research commercialization to identify best practices and emerging patterns
  • Creating maps and data visualizations to inform state, national and international policy makers

Recent projects include:

  • A statewide study to assess the business and technological conditions of Georgia’s manufacturers
  • An analysis of journals and patents to understand how nanotechnology is emerging
  • A case study to examine the performance of International University Research Ventures of US research universities

Jan’s work straddles two worlds: academia and practice. She uses advanced research techniques to help leaders and policy-makers understand where we are and where we can go next.

Juli GolemiJuli

Senior Project Manager, Innovation Ecosystems

Juli’s experience includes economic and fiscal analysis, benchmarking analysis as well collection and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data. She enjoys working with clients representing economic development organizations, state agencies, academia and the private sector.

Recent projects include:

  • Assessing the economic impact of an industry in the state of Georgia.
  • Working with two communities to assess their need to build and sustain a business incubation programs.
  • Conducting a SWOT analysis and a Survey Of Logistics Companies for a logistics park in Latin America

Leigh Hopkinsleigh

Senior Project Manager, Center for Economic Development Research

Leigh uses her knowledge and experience in economic and community development to empower communities with the tools to create a competitive workforce, enable sustainable development strategies, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Recent projects include:

  • Developing an “innovation neighborhood” in Atlanta’s economically-challenged Westside
  • Implementing an Advanced Manufacturing Strategy for the 15-county Northwest Georgia region under the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) initiative
  • Administering Georgia Tech’s professional economic development courses accredited through IEDC

Don Betts

Senior Project Manager, Center for Economic Development Research

He enjoys building community coalitions and putting together new and creative ways to tackle economic development and community health issues. Particular passion about raising awareness of the economic impacts of poor community health.

Work includes:

  • Working with local employers and state and local health systems to deliver community-based health initiatives.
  • Helping Georgia employers find resources for better decision making around employee healthcare programs and plans.
  • Helping economic development leaders find the information and data needed for better decision making.

Recent projects:

  • Working with over 180 professionals to operate a statewide business healthcare coalition called EmployersLikeMe to provide peer-to-peer learning and resources around access, quality, and cost of care
  • Leading a community coalition with employers and the health system to work with Georgia Dept. of Public Health
    and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement around Better Health at a Lower Cost

Ernesto EscobarErnesto

International Programs Manager, Innovation Ecosystems 

Ernesto enjoys working with communities who are ready to innovate. His work includes creating entrepreneurship education programs, working with startups and nurturing young innovation ecosystems.

Recent projects include:

  • Strengthening a young island-wide innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Caribbean
  • Working with technology extension programs in South America to increase productivity
  • Creating programs to support innovation, mentorship networks and entrepreneurs

Candice McKieCandice

Project Manager, Center for Economic Development Research

Candice provides public and private sector leaders a greater understanding of their economic environment. Her work includes analyzing demographic and economic trends, conducting economic and fiscal impact analyses, workforce analysis, and target industry analysis.

Recent projects include:

  • A broad-based community assessment for a small county in Georgia
  • Measuring the supply and demand of a community’s workforce
  • Verifying market studies for a state tourist attraction incentive program
  • Using primary and secondary market research (customer discovery) to aid in the design and validation of a placed-based entrepreneurial support program

Brandy Stanfield-Nageljrs_0392x_1024

Faculty Researcher, Program Manager, Innovation Ecosystems 

Brandy enjoys working with universities, colleges and non-profits to create startup programs. Her work includes establishing innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship programs to help everyone from undergrads to tenured professors to post docs.

Recent projects include:

  • Developing a cluster incubator at an R1 public research school
  • Nurturing a faculty commercialization program at an HBCU
  • Teaching Lean Startup skills to teams all over the country
  • Building an Entrepreneurship & Innovation Community at a small liberal arts college

Sam PughSam

Project Manager, Center for Economic Development Research

Sam helps communities with economic development research and program execution. He focuses on giving them the tools to make smart decisions about their economy. His work includes stakeholder interviews, incentive strategy development, and SWOT analysis.

Recent projects include:

  • Researching economic and community development issues for Georgia counties
  • Aiding partnership development by executing a region-wide, industry-specific communication strategy
  • Validating the use of tourism investment tax abatement

Monica Novoa

Faculty Researcher, Program Manager, Innovation Ecosystems 

Monica’s work includes creating educational programs that teach fundamental aspects of entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization of technology; as well as advising entrepreneurs and start-up communities on scalable and global business strategies. She enjoys working with academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private sector entities on initiatives that strengthen their entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.

Recent projects include:

  • Supporting a customer discovery boot camp program for entrepreneurs in a Caribbean Island
  • Working with technology extension programs in South America to increase productivity