According to Thumbtack’s 2017 Small Business Friendliness Survey, Alabama earned a B+ for its business climate overall. However, a series of new business incubators could help the state’s entrepreneurs even more.
The state earned A’s and B’s on most categories with the exception of two—training/networking and government websites:
- Ease of starting a business: B+
- Ease of hiring: A
- Regulations: B+
- Health and safety: A
- Employment, labor, and hiring: A
- Tax code: A-
- Licensing: A-
- Environmental: A-
- Zoning: A-
- Training and networking programs: D
- Government websites: D+
Alabama’s new business incubators could improve the state’s grade on training and networking. These are the programs that have opened or are in development, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.
Technology Villages at the University of Alabama
This program is starting in Cullman and Fairhope with the goal of creating entrepreneurial hubs that will boost the growth of tech businesses. The program will help small, rural communities build and operate storefront centers that are focused on technology. Instead of operating as traditional incubators, these centers will serve as resource hubs for startup companies, offering distance learning and consulting support. The University of Alabama will also provide business development services, such as assistance with research, patents, and contract manufacturing strategy.
In South Carolina, Clemson University launched a similar program that resulted in the creation of more than 12 businesses and almost 70 new jobs.
Invention to Innovation Center at University of Alabama in Huntsville
The D.S. Davidson Invention to Innovation Center is currently being constructed. Once complete in early 2019, it will be an incubator for entrepreneurs and new business development in the area. In addition to forming a resilient entrepreneurial climate in northern Alabama and building partnerships with other entrepreneurial ecosystems, the center will be focused on stimulating growth of new and existing science and engineering high-tech companies.
Finally, Auburn University also recently opened the Tiger Cage Accelerator and Incubator, which is geared toward providing office/meeting space and mentorship to student-led startup companies.