Nearly $1 million in federal grant money will create seed funds for business innovation in Alabama.
Some small businesses in Alabama could benefit from a federal program designed to support business innovation programs. In September, AL.com reported, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 42 organizations in 28 states were receiving grants as part of the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program. Of those, three organizations in Alabama will receive almost $1 million.
The three Alabama groups are Birmingham’s Innovation Depot, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. AL.com outlined their grants:
- The Birmingham Innovation Depot got a $170,925 Seed Fund Support Grant to create a Velocity fund that will assist entrepreneurs in scaling up their businesses, and it also involves an identical non-federal match. The fund is expected to support the creation of 50 businesses and 246 jobs after five years.
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham received an i6 Challenge grant of $498,216, which will be matched with another $498,754, to create a proof-of-concept incubator. This will include facilities, training, guidance, and funding access for faculty, students, and staff to launch and build startup companies, and it’s expected to support the creation of 35 new companies and 80 new jobs.
- The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation is receiving a $299,995 Seed Fund Support grant, which will be matched with a nonfederal share of $347,970. This will fund the creation, launch, and administration of a seed fund supporting entrepreneurs in the Gulf Coast region as a complement to the foundation’s Innovation PortAL business incubator. It’s expected to support the development of 15 new businesses and creation of 46 jobs.
Meanwhile, small business optimism nationwide continues to rise. According to NFIB’s August 2017 Small Business Optimism Index, the percentage of small business owners who intend to make capital investments in the next three to six months reached its highest level (32 percent) since 2006. Additionally, 27 percent of small business owners expect higher sales and believe it’s a good time to expand.