John is also President of York, PA non-profit The Fortress Initiative and CEO of The Fortress Academy, Central Pennsylvania’s FIRST and ONLY state-licensed computer programming bootcamp in Central Pennsylvania. Giving keynote presentations around the country, including at The White House, John has shared The York Plan to unite communities in preparation for emerging and disruptive technology. A registered 72,000 people will be in attendance at SXSW and this will be a great opportunity to to discuss inclusive innovation ecosystems and spread The York Plan 2.0.
Johns’ primary passion has been focused on the rise of third tier cities. As Founder of Royal Square Development, John spearheaded technology, marketing, community engagement and investor relations. Helping to grow the company from 4 employees to nearly 40 in 18 short months he also worked on the acquisition and development of more than 50 properties in downtown York including the $1,650,000 Bond Building project and most recently the $14,000,000 Market Street Revitalization Project.
Previous to co-founding Royal Square Development and Construction, John served as CEO and Founder of two tech startups, The Usic and Shootstay. John led product development, hiring of technical talent and product deployment.
Known professionally as a Vision Caster and Technical Futurist, John believes in the power of community networking through communication and technology. After leaving RSDC John has become a sought after national speaker on exponential technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, economic development and disruption. John is currently the President of The Fortress Initiative, a non profit geared towards promoting awareness of the 4th Industrial Revolution to rural and 3rd tier markets and is CEO of The Fortress Academy, Central PA’s First Licensed Coding Bootcamp. John is also CEO of York Exponential, a company that leverages technology and collaborative Robots, primarily for the Manufacturing Industry.
He views the struggles of York, and other third 3rd cities, as a reflection of the struggles of our nation as a whole, and feels it is his civic duty to tackle those problems on a community by community basis. By addressing these problems on a small scale, John feels confident that we can begin to make positive and lasting changes to not only our communities but to our nation. He believes technology should benefit the lives of all of our citizens regardless of race, education or socioeconomic position and is the cornerstone of a sound Economic Development model.
Also on the panel is Nicole Jones – Global Innovation Leader at Delta Air Lines, Emily Dowdy – Outreach Manager at the US Department Of Treasury, and Rodney Sampson – Partner at TechSquare Labs.
Nicole is a highly accomplished strategist with a successful career analyzing, defining, recommending, and implementing strategies, and programs that have positioned several Fortune 100 brands for continued growth across highly complex and evolving competitive landscapes.
As an Outreach Manager for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, I have led inter-agency discussions to enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem with a focus on rural, small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Cultivating strong, collaborative relationships with state awardees in order to help develop and implement strategies to improve program effectiveness; Developing the first ever Treasury supported state peer-to-peer strategy to assist state agencies’ ability to enhance capacity and deploy federal funds; Maintaining and strengthening existing strategic partnerships to foster deeper engagement and build new relationships with governmental agencies; Further enhancing technical assistance and communicating outreach plans to federal and state funded agencies.
Rodney Sampson is a veteran tech entrepreneur (with two exits), venture investor, selective advisor, four time published author and experienced authority of the evolution of the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem for all. He currently serves as Chairman at Opportunity Ecosystem an ecosystem building platform; Partner, Tech Opportunity Fund, a $100 million diversity scholarship fund; Founder of Kingonomics, the nation’s leading advocacy and learning platform for minorities and under-served communities to learn, navigate and master the capital markets and investment ecosystem; and Partner at TechSquare Labs. TechSquare Labs is a technology hub, seed fund and corporate innovation lab located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta near Georgia Tech co-founded with Dr. Paul Judge and Allen Nance. To date, TechSquare Labs’ portfolio companies have raised more than $250 million in venture funding and created more than 500 high growth jobs. Sampson previously served as the 1st Head of Diversity at Mark Burnett Productions, executive producers of the hit ABC show, ABC’s Sharktank.
They will be discussing:
The United States’ innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem lack authentic diversity and inclusion which, according to the Center of Global Policy, is costing America a significant loss of minority owned businesses, jobs, economic value and gross domestic product (GDP). Our thesis is that significant investment from large corporations, foundations, local, state and federal government agencies, colleges and universities and private investors in comprehensive inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship and investment initiatives will add over $500 billion in market value to the tech industry and could increase our GDP by up to 1.6%.