April 15, 2024

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – State leaders are hoping to keep your children in Alabama after they graduate college. Their plan is to give out millions of dollars in small business grants. It’s benefiting local business owners who are commercializing modern technology as well as the state’s regional and national economic footprint.

The Alabama Innovation Corporation, or Innovate Alabama, announced the first round of small business recipients of the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant Program, awarding more than $4.5 million in grant funding. 31 awards were presented to 30 winners, across six Alabama cities.

“We want those businesses to stay in Alabama” State Representative Danny Garrett said. “It’s technology based companies and they are going to be able to grow their businesses in the state. Businesses who have new ideas, some of these are tech related or product development.”

Garrett is a member of Innovate Alabama and said each company awarded in this round has already been rewarded federal grants, so each can get up to $250,000.

“Of the 30 businesses that received those awards, nine were women and minority owned,” Garrett said. “We want to attract these businesses here. We want people here that have those ideas. There is a network of these people all across the state, we want to encourage them to stay in Alabama and provide support for that.”

Winners of the Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant are located in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Bessemer, Huntsville, Auburn and Mobile. Garrett said the new grant program will encourage young college graduates to stay in Alabama, with their new ideas.

“We want them to stay here,” He said. “They like living here. They like what the state has to offer. We just don’t have the investment network of that vehicle in place, so this is another way we can retain college graduates.”

Each business has 18 months to use their grant money and Garrett said it will be in the state’s legislation budget every year.

The Alabama Legislature has allocated an additional $5 million for the 2023 fiscal year to provide a second round of grant funding for eligible Alabama small businesses. Applicants must have a Phase I or Phase II SBIR or STTR grant that was active on or after July 1, 2022. The application portal is expected to reopen in 2023.


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