May 13, 2005 - (HOSTSEARCH.COM) - From a garage-based startup in 1996 to plans for going public in 2006, web hosting provider AIT has made a mark on its hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. This week, the hosting company and its founder, Clarence Briggs, were recognized with the Economic Visionary Award by the Fayetteville Area Economic Development Corporation.
We survived the Dark Ages of the dot-com bubble burst, and in many ways that has made AIT a stronger company, said Briggs.
The companys track record includes 9 years of sustained profitability and an impact on the community around it:
- Created or caused to be created 236 jobs
- Made a direct capital investment of $5,800,000 on the Maiden Lane property
- Made a payroll investment of $22,000,000 dollars
- Made direct purchases of $8,200,000 from state and local vendors
- Spent $479,000 in repairs and improvements to the property
- Paid $102,000 in property taxes to the County
- Generated $111,000,000 in revenue
AITs success was, in part, by a $450,000 inducement package from Cumberland County, one of the better economic development deals that local government has made. AIT took over a downtown building abandoned by the Department of Social Services and was at forefront of a revitalization effort in the Center City.
Having a major employer downtown is a big help in creating the critical mass that downtown areas everywhere need in re-generating growth, according to Bill Martin, President of the Cumberland County Business Council, the communitys chief industry-recruiting agency. AITs story also shows the value of working with existing companies instead of solely focusing on attracting new companies.
When Clarence Briggs founded AIT, he was already an entrepreneur an Army infantry officer looking at post-military life. At the time, the Internet was in its infancy but Briggs believed the potential for growth was huge. It turned out to be the right business at the right time, and a lot of good people have a hand in where AIT is today, says Briggs. But there were anxious times in the garage days with four kids to feed, wondering if this was the right decision.
A key factor in AITs growth is the companys proximity to the military and the technical talent that leaves the armed forces every year. Thats one reason the company developed and licensed a technology called MatchForce to the North Carolina Military Business Center. The Center uses MatchForce (http://matchforce.org) to take advantage of defense contracting opportunities that civilian companies dont bid on because they either dont know about them or see the contracting process as too cumbersome.
Many businesses are unaware that the Defense Department spends about half of its annual budget with private companies each year, buying all kinds of non weapons items, says Briggs. Thats a lot of money companies in North Carolina are leaving on the table.
AIT has also built a Metropolitan Area Network to improve Fayettevilles economic development goals. The network delivers multiple media voice, video, and data over a single network, significantly cutting a users costs.