Software Firm Assisted by Georgia Tech Helps Spark Warner Robins Downtown Revitalization

Until last spring, Star Software was a member company of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech's business incubator for technology firms. Yet Star's rapid growth -- in just two years, it had doubled revenue and quadrupled staff -- indicated it was ready to graduate from the incubator.
Tom Eaves, Star's founder and CEO, negotiated with Warner Robins city officials to buy an old downtown bank building that the city owned. The $425,000 acquisition gave Star a lot more elbow room -- more than triple its former space -- and gave downtown Warner Robins a needed shot in the arm.
In recent years, Warner Robins' commercial development has moved west toward Interstate 75, leaving the city's downtown core. "Star's presence not only brings new life to the bank building, but also to the downtown neighborhood," observes Jim Elliott, city attorney for Warner Robins.
In addition to spending $200,000 to renovate the 7,000-square-foot bank building, Star plans to build a $1 million addition, with construction slated to begin soon. Originally planned to be a 9,000-square-foot structure, the addition has been expanded to 12,000 square feet. "Space is already getting tight," Eaves explains, referring to his burgeoning staff. Right now, Star has about 40 employees, but Eaves expects that headcount to total somewhere between 85 and 110 by the end of 2003.
Star's rapid-fire growth underscores ATDC's efforts to boost economic development in middle Georgia, a stategy that began more than a decade ago with the location of an incubator program in the Middle Georgia Technology Development Center. During the last 10 years, ATDC's Warner Robins branch has assisted more than 30 companies. Five of them have expanded and located permanent facilities near the Development Center, while two others -- including Star -- have moved to downtown.